The challenge of providing information about the European elections as the main focus during our Més Periodisme event
CIDOB researchers and former Brussels correspondent Carme Colomina; La Vanguardia and El Periódico journalists Lluís Uría and Eliseo Oliveras as well as the head of the office of the European Parliament in Barcelona, Seri Barrera, were the protagonists of this fifth edition.
On 26 May, citizens with the right to vote in the European Union (EU) are called to the ballot boxes. The 751 members of the European Parliament will be chosen on that date. It is a body chosen by direct votes with legislational, supervisory and budgetary responsibilities. It is a date that coincides with municipal elections and even autonomous community elections in some cases, which could undermine the attention paid to Europe, with the focus remaining solely and exclusively on national elections. A scenario which is a challenge to the media in general - and for specialised journalists in particular- when informing and mobilising citizens within the framework of the European elections.
This challenge lay at the heart of the latest edition of the Més Periodisme event, organised by the Faculty of Communication Sciences. CIDOB researcher and former Brussels correspondent Carme Colomina participated in the event. Her talk entitled ‘Comunicar Europa’ analysed the scenario in 28 members states, the emergence of extreme right parties and Eurosceptic voices, Brexit, the positioning of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, our relationship with Russia and political disaffection.
Colomina explained that “new populist leaderships often challenge traditional discourse. Sometimes in a positive way and sometimes not” and said that “the concept of political leadership is changing, thus affecting public opinion”. The expert and former correspondent also indicated that “the perception of what being a member of the EU implies is changing” and that “populism and anti-immigration movements are creating political sentiments based on perception”. For example, in Spain the perception of immigration reaches 23% when in reality the figure is 9%.
The talk by Colomina was followed by a round table entitled “From Brexit to elections on 26th March: media coverage of European issues”. The assistant director of La Vanguardia, Lluís Uría, the European Affairs analyst at El Periódico, Eliseo Oliveras and the head of the European Parliament office in Barcelona, Sergi Barrera, all took part in a debate moderated by specialist in European studies and international relations, Ana Isabel Rodríguez.
The four placed issues such as disaffection and new political and social challenges on the table as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the fact the elections will coincide with municipal elections in terms of informing and attracting people.
“The issue of Europe is contaminated by internal politics” said Uría. Oliveras expressed opinions along the same lines, saying that “debates everywhere will be at a national level” and lamented the fact that before the European crisis, “Spain has not taken on a role, and has not put forward any initiatives” despite being the third-largest country in the eurozone. “What type of Europe would be good for Spain? I think this reflection is missing”.
On the other hand, Barrera described the institutional campaign that has been launched to encourage participation entitled ‘Esta vez voto’ and talked about the practical action that has been achieved in the EU thanks to policies adopted by European member-states. He also noted that these elections could reach participation levels of around 60% due to the fact they coincide with municipal elections. He also asked students to attend since “as journalists, you must be critical”. In order to do this, it will be necessary for the media to come along beforehand and describe the EU project and thus attract an electorate currently beset by disaffection.