Wikipedia, European elections, nationalism and linguistic turn

This afternoon the Luxemburger Wort, which has close links with Jean-Claude Juncker, candidate of the European People’s Party for President of the European Commission, brought the following story on Martin Schulz.

In last minute effort, the socialist candidate nationalised his PR in Germany by running ads in national papers arguing that only a vote for the SPD will make a German president of the European Commission. For me, this move of Schulz was quite surprising as he has always argued against national paradigms to solve European problems.

BoTkQmmIEAAHlC3.jpg:largeNo wonder, the topic attracted some attention in Luxembourg, where the General Secretary of Juncker’s party, Laurent Zeimet, pleaded in a tweet to vote for his candidate, a “true European”, which made Jean-Lou Siweck, editor-in-chief of the aforementioned Luxemburger Wort, react.

Screenshot from 2014-05-23 14:11:21Screenshot from 2014-05-23 14:14:07This little discussion made me try a little experiment. I went to the German Wikipedia and changed the following phrase “Jean-Claude Juncker (* 9. Dezember 1954 in Redingen, Luxemburg) ist ein luxemburgischer Politiker.” in “Jean-Claude Juncker (* 9. Dezember 1954 in Redingen, Luxemburg) ist ein europäischer Politiker.” My modification did not even survive a minute.

Screenshot from 2014-05-23 14:17:01

As so often, I lost this editorial war, but I think that there is a more fundamental problem than this individual Juncker entry on the German Wikipedia. At least since the linguistic turn, we all know that words are creating a/the reality. If there should be some day a common European identity, the way of naming politicians working on an European level should no longer be determined by their national identity but by their European identity. Schulz, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Keller/Bové, Tsipras, Sunde/Andersdotter should no longer be qualified as German, Luxembourgish, Belgian, German/French, Greek, Norwegian/Swedish politicians but as European politicians.1.




  1. Interestingly Peter Sunde’s Wikipedia-page use the following expression:  Er hat norwegische und schwedische Wurzeln.” []

Benoit Majerus

Since January 2011, I am working as Associate Professor at the University of Luxembourg. I have written my PhD on the occupation of Belgium during World War One and World Two. In 2013 I published a history of psychiatry in the 20th century from below. I am also co-editor of h-madness.

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