EU elections to be held in May next year
11.03.13 @ 11:30
BRUSSELS - EU countries have opted to change the date of the EU elections next year in order to increase turnout.
Diplomats in the EU Council's so-called working party on general affairs agreed on Friday (8 March) to move the European Parliament vote from 5-8 June 2014 to a day between 22-25 May next year instead.
The decision is to be rubber stamped by EU ambassadors later this week and finalised by EU ministers and by MEPs shortly afterward.
"Some delegations initially objected due to national constitutional reasons, or because they wanted to avoid problems linked to the timing of regional elections, but in the end there was a unanimous agreement," an EU official told this website.
The idea was originally put forward by the European Parliament last March.
British Liberal MEP Andrew Duff said the assembly could do with extra time in order to prepare for the election of the next European Commission President, a major new task under the Lisbon Treaty.
The EU official quoted above said another big reason was to increase turnout.
The Christian feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the visitation by the Holy Spirit to the apostles after the death of Jesus Christ, falls on 8 June next year, meaning that many people might be away on holiday and not bother to vote.
Turnout has become an embarrassment for EU institutions in recent years.
The EU average peaked at 62 percent in the first election in 1979, but fell in every vote since then to hit 43 percent in the last one, in 2009.
Voters in individual countries, such as Lithuania (21% in 2009) and Poland (25%), showed even less interest.