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<nettime> Your vote disappears like a pea in the soup (on the European e
Tjebbe van Tijen on Wed, 10 Jun 2009 23:32:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Your vote disappears like a pea in the soup (on the European elections)

[delayed at nettime by a technical glitch.]

For an illustrated version see:



le monde entier est vert

Back to the Urns (ballot box; a urn is also a large pot, so I liked  
to French call "Aux Urnes" and used it for my soup emblem); the whole  
world is green]
There were five peas in one pod; the peas were green and the pod was  
green, and so they believed that the whole world was green-and that  
was absolutely right! The pod grew and the peas grew; they adjusted  
themselves to their surroundings, sitting straight in a row. The sun  
shone outside and warmed the pod; the rain made it clear and clean.  
It was nice and cozy inside, bright in the daytime and dark at night,  
just as it should be; and the peas became larger, and more and more  
thoughtful, as they sat there, for surely there was something they  
must do. âShall I always remain sitting here?â said one. âIf only I  
donât become hard from sitting so long. It seems to me there must be  
something outside; I have a feeling about it.â And weeks went by; the  
peas became yellow, and the pod became yellow. âThe whole worldâs  
becoming yellow,â they said, and that they had a right to say.

These are the opening lines of the fairy tale of Hans Christian  
Andersen âFive Peas in a Podâ which is a nice and sentimental story  
about some ignorant peas in a pod who will learn about the world and  
its chances. Most of the peas are wasted away quickly, but one is  
shot into the air by a boy with a blowing pipe â a peashooter â  and  
lands in the gutter right beneath a half rotten window pane of an  
attic room in which a poor family is living. It is a mother and a  
frail sick girl that has to stay in bed all the time. One day she  
discovers the pee that has sprouted and grows into  a plant. The  
girls happily observes this wonder of nature and takes the pea-plant  
as an example and so she starts to get better, growing healthier by  
the day.

This week thursday the 4th of June the Netherlands did cast their  
peas in the European election-pot and this weekend the other nations  
will follow suit. Each nation neatly compartmented in their own pod.  
Each member state having their own inside-the-pod vision and in the  
end most of these peas will end up in a big pan, on a  fire, be  
stirred, decompose into a soup. There are 27 member states with  
approximate 500 million inhabitants of which a major part is  
considered ripe enough to cast their vote. By sunday June the 7th all  
736 seats of the parliament of the European Union will be divided and  
the stirring of  the soup may begin. Centrifugal powers will bring  
together and drive apart the ingredients and from the perspective of  
a voting pea in its pod, this reconfiguration may often be at odds  
with the specific original color and taste. Transnational coalitions  
on ideological basis, as well as regional cluttering and  
opportunistic monstrous alliances. After a lot of stirring,  
nevertheless, it becomes one big pan of soup because the mere scale  
of  it makes the substance into an amalgam that has lost  its  
specific flavors and blends  everything into one strong taste: peasâ.  
and one overwhelming color: green.

But what about the one pea that by chance, or destination,  jumps the  
other way and ends up in a moist and fertile corner and starts to  
sprout? Potentially there are many peas that stayed in their pod and  
could roll another way. In the Netherlands less than 40% of the  
voters did use their right. In most other countries European  
elections tend to have a low participation also. Non-involvement in  
European elections may just be an expression of a general lack of  
active participation in political affairs, but not necessarily so.

The four levels of delegation of power offered (municipal,  
provincial, national, European) may be too much for a simple pea.  
Active local participation where one can see who stirs the soup or  
even can take the spoon in oneâs own hands and stir the other way  
around if necessary, makes much more sense for most people. Most of  
the parties that participate in the European elections, are also  
represented at the other three levels and their representatives seem  
hardly equipped to tackle transnational and European affairs. The  
public debates about European politics, as seen in most countries  
these last weeks, were most often projections of local and national  
issues, like keeping  foreigners and islam out, so no new member  
states, like Turkey. The paradoxical question how to deal with  
national protectionist measures in the realities of  a common  
European market during the actual international financial crisis, was  
mostly evaded, instead there was the regular local squabble and  
political bickering. Grand themes like the EU and the world food  
situation, global energy questions and new visions on migration could  
not be heard. It is like the babbling peas of Andersen in the green  
world of their pod: âIt seems to me there must be something outside;  
I have a feeling about itâ, but when the protective cover of the pod  
is pulled open and they drop into the real world, most of them are  
soon wasted away or end up in the big soup pan, where once again  
everything seems to be green.

Tjebbe van Tijen
Imaginary Museum Projects
Dramatizing Historical Information
web-blog: The Limping Messenger

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