Friday

27th May 2016

Focus

EU turnout nearly unchanged from 2009

  • Young people outside the European Parliament on Sunday (Photo: Valentina Pop)

A 0.09 percent increase in the turnout compared to the last EU elections has been celebrated as 'historic', but some experts see a link to the strong anti-establishment vote in many countries.

The 43.09 percent figure was presented as 'historic' on Sunday night (25 May) by the European Parliament's spokesman, Jaume Duch, given that turnout has been on a continuous decline since 1979 when the first elections were held.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The leaders of the Socialist and the Liberal groups in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda and Guy Verhofstadt also welcomed the reverse in the trend and said that an even bigger leap could be achieved next time, if people could vote directly for the EU commission president.

The novelty of this year's elections, the so-called Spitzenkandidaten – top candidates put forward by the main political groups for the chairmanship of the European Commission – was designed to boost turnout.

Verhofstadt, himself a Spitzenkandidat, saw a direct link between the top candidates and the slight rise in turnout.

But Karel Lannoo, an expert with the Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based think tank, disagrees.

"It's true that the expectations were for the turnout to be lower, at around 39 percent. But this is no 'historic reversal of a trend', it's preserving the status quo," he told this website.

Lannoo also dismissed the link with the Spitzenkandidaten. "If turnout increased substantially you could say it had an impact."

Rather, he noted that turnout was high in the countries where the anti-establishment vote was strong: France, where the far right National Front scooped most votes; the UK, where the anti-EU UKIP came in first; and Germany, where the newly founded anti-euro Alternative fuer Deutschland Party scored 7 percent, more than expected.

A look at the breakdown of countries' data shows that eleven EU states had a turnout increase compared to 2009: Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK. The highest increase was in Greece – from 52.61 percent in 2009 to 57.4 this year. Germany went up by 4.6 percent and France too, by 3.4 percent.

At the other end, Slovakia had a turnout of just 13 percent, compared to slightly under 20 percent in 2009. Czech voters also preferred to stay at home: 19.5 percent of the electorate went to the polling stations, compared to over 28 percent five years ago.

EUobserved

Death by 'hearings'

The hearings, the hearings. It's all about the hearings. Please make it stop. Or should that be start?

News in Brief

  1. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law
  2. Ukraine bans Gorbachev for backing Crimea's seizure
  3. Dozens dead in two shipwrecks outside Libya
  4. Slovak PM says his country is no place for Muslims
  5. Juncker's spin-doctor warns of populist 'horror'
  6. EU urges Hungary to end discrimination of Roma children
  7. Majority of voters think UK will stay in EU
  8. Leading MEP says Greek bailout will not work

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan