Electing Europe's Parliament

Archive Report

Outlook for the New Parliament

Debate Over Significance of Elections

In the world's first international general election, the people of the nine-nation European Community will go to the polls early in June to elect a European Parliament. Aside from the uniqueness of the event, analysts on both sides of the Atlantic are trying to decide just what it means, both now and for the future. When the nine governments finally agreed in the summer of 1976 to proceed with direct elections, the speaker of the then-appointed Parliament exuberantly told his listeners: “This date marks the birth of the European citizen.”1

That idealistic notion, a united Europe virtually without national boundaries, has been embedded in European thought at least since the 19th century. Until after World War II, ...

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