"Maybe we need to go through this damaging experience so that next time we get true democracy in Europe." The comments of a German professor this week about the impending apathy due to strike the elections for European parliamentarians next week.

So, is being cruel to be kind a good solution for Europe? There are certainly some risks.

Such an approach suggests that the elections next week will bring gridlock to European democracy, a punishment if you like. The expected drop in turnout will favour fringe parties with anti-EU agendas. In the UK, this will undoubtedly be fuelled by opinion of a rotten political class and add voices to the argument the UK is better out of the EU.

In practice of course, this is a futile argument. Pulling out is near impossible - we're stuck with it. Not only would it be a complex constitutional nightmare, the costs of which would never be tolerated by an electorate already bailing out the national economy, but would likely to also cost more money than it saves in the long run.

As a result, we'd be left with a totally ineffective institution, promoting an agenda that isn't up for debate and that the Parliament has no hope or power to change.

If Europe's citizens decide to be cruel next week, expect the next four years of European democracy to achieve very little. That will make it all the more difficult to be kind further down the road.

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