Until the very end, one would have thought the European Council would deliberately disregard the choice made by European voters on 25 May 2014. But even in pain, the Council made the best decision possible: one which consisted in respecting the democratic process started by political parties during the campaign, and to appoint Jean-Claude Juncker, candidate for the European People’s Party (which came first in the elections), as President of the European Commission.
Whatever opinion one might have about Jean-Claude Juncker as a person, this decision is very welcome, because it constitutes an undeniable step forward for the European democratic model. For the first time in the history of European integration, European parties campaigned with one candidate, renown on a continent-wide scale, thereby allowing citizens to have a say on who should hold European executive power.
Indeed, the procedure was far from perfect, and we can only be appalled by David Cameron’s pathetic attitude, who firmly opposed a nomination he could have sought to influence months ago. European Heads of States and Governments displayed a pitiful image of themselves with dirty political haggling, on a nomination which should have been the object of dialogues and negotiations before the elections, and should now be straightforward. Hence, there is still a lot of room for improvement before the EU achieves an institutional system as democratic as legitimate, and we will have to remember this in five years, when we seek to improve it.
In any case, that Thursday 26 June 24 needs to be remembered as an exceptional day, when citizens made their voices heard by the EU’s highest institutions, thereby demonstrating that things are not exclusively decided in Brussels.