This May it is time for Europeans to go to the polls in an election that in many respects is highly significant and perhaps even critical to Europe's democratic future.
For the first time, voters have the opportunity to directly influence who will become the European Commission's next president. This is done by the major party groups in the EP nominating their candidate for the presidency in advance, which roughly means that the candidate from the largest post-election party group becomes the next Commission president.
This is a commendable initiative by the EU party groups to strengthen European level democracy and to give the Commission greater legitimacy among the European citizens without any major reforms that would require new treaties between the national governments.
There is alot more to be desired when it comes to democratic reform of the EU but much of what is needed is above or "below" the powers of the Parliament. It is in the hands of our national governments and parliaments. Unfortunately, there is significant resistance at national level against giving more power over European politics to the voters.
Parliamentary elections in May, however, have a great potential to bring democracy much needed focus and put it on the agenda for future national elections in Europe.