A wide choice of candidates in a key pan-European poll

Morning View

Morning View

In less than a month, the adult population of Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to vote in two important elections.

The council poll is significant because it will be the first election to the new super-councils, in which a smaller number of councillors are elected than to the outgoing 26 councils. The new councillors will have more powers than their predecessors.

The MEP poll, also held on May 22, will be significant across Europe. In the middle of 2012, there was such a grave crisis in the EU that it seemed that single currency would collapse.

While the future of the euro still seems highly uncertain, the prospect of the currency failing does not seem to be so likely.

Even so, these are critical years for Europe.

Much of the EU is seeking to bind closer together, to avoid the disparities in fiscal policy that helped cause the crisis in the first place.

Britain is among the member states that wants the opposite. It is hard to see how these opposing aspirations can be reconciled.

The forthcoming term of the European parliament will cover a five-year period during which there is a strong possibility of an in-out referendum in the UK, in which the English public may decide to quit the EU. This would have far-reaching consequences for Northern Ireland, particularly if combined with a Scottish exit from the UK (admittedly an unlikely combination).

The European Parliament has limited powers but it is nonetheless one of the central institutions of the EU.

Northern Irish voters have the wide choice of 10 potential representatives, of Orange, nationalist Green and neither, as well as right and environmental Green. A traditional socialist candidate is perhaps the only missing offering. The mix includes Eurosceptic and Euro enthusiast candidates.

Ulster voters have the chance to make their view of the world known at a critical time for the continent on the edge of which they live.




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