Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Bloggingportal challenges Europarties

Bloggingportal.eu has grown considerably since the start. It now brings together 487 Euroblogs in one convenient place on its Posts page. Voluntary editors tag the entries according to their contents (although the system needs improvement) and post their choices on the Home page. RSS feeds are available for all posts or for the editors’ choice on the “front page”.

Here are some of my reflections on Bloggingportal.eu generally, the editors’ choices and blogging politicians representing Europarties.


Bloggingportal.eu is multilingual, offering the choice of 25 languages (including Norwegian). In practice, English is by far the dominant language by number of blogs, numerically followed by French, but some of them of high quality.

When we think that German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in the European Union, the rarity of German language EU blogs is striking. On the other hand, there are now a few active quality blogs in Spanish.

Without exaggerating much, one could say that most of the other languages are represented by one or a few individuals.

There are still wide uncovered areas in an EU with 500 million inhabitants.

Editors’ choices

The editors should, in my opinion, look for original content as opposed to boilerplate announcements, journalistic quality, various viewpoints, variety of themes and linguistic diversity.

In practice, professional journalists and some experienced citizen bloggers seem to be highlighted on the Home page most frequently, and there is fairly little linguistic variety.

Bloggingportal.eu offers a Feedback button, so readers can offer their views and suggestions for improvements.


Fairly few professional EU politicians blog actively. Interestingly, blogging foreign ministers like Carl Bildt and Alexander Stubb seem to be able to post original content frequently, although their languages – Swedish and Finnish – remain behind the language barrier for most readers.

If we look at the number of MEPs and staffers, relatively few have taken up blogging (or found their way to Bloggingportal.eu). There are a few encouraging examples, but even among them there are some problems from a reader’s viewpoint.

Many politicians’ blog posts are hasty announcements of the “I’ll be in Strasbourg next week” type. Some report events, not only national in scope, but from constituency level, such as the birthday of a local party loyalist. Then there are posts, which rattle off links to parliamentary questions and letters, or reproduce announcements by political groups, without added value or a European dimension.

All in all, there are not many MEP posts with serious, reflected content, inviting political discussion with citizens on issues of common European concern.

Naturally, elected politicians have to tend to their constituents, but do the European level parties – Europarties – step into the breach?

If we discount self-promotion on national or local issues by individual politicians, there is practically only one political party, which bridges the gap to citizens, by offering political discussion with a European dimension.

This exception is the Party of European Socialists [tagged pse on Bloggingportal.eu] and especially the Social Europe Journal, which is not listed on Bloggingportal.eu in the category of MEPs / MPs / Political parties, but among Think tanks / Academic / Federations.

Although some elected politicians write for Social Europe, most of the columnists are intellectuals (academics and party activists), who discuss the future of reformist socialism and social democracy in Europe.

The articles are reasoned and often well written, from a European perspective, which means that many of them are promoted to the front page of Bloggingportal.eu.

Good for them! If they deserve to be highlighted, they should be.

But this still leaves us with some questions. In a European Union dominated by centre-right, liberal and (far) right political forces, with active Greens staking out their visions for the future and uppity newcomers like the Pirate Party claiming the front row on web related issues, where are these other Europarties?

Do they think and act at European level? If so, why is there so little to be seen?

I have no yearning for boilerplate resolutions, but for ideas about our European future, engaging citizens to read, reflect and respond.

It is time for the other Europarties, their political foundations and the EP political groups, as well as staffers and activists, to take up the challenge and for the PES to fight to keep its lead.

Ralf Grahn