Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Thousands able to vote twice in EU elections

Thousands of EU citizens get two votes in the EP election, one where they live and one in their home country. Different national systems mean it is virtually impossible to accurately monitor double voting.

Opinion

EP elections: A Union divided

What many observers believed to be the most important European elections since the introduction of direct universal suffrage in 1979 has ended up confirming what many have feared: Europe is a divided continent.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  2. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  3. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  6. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  7. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  8. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  9. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies
  10. EU2017EEAre We Socially Insured in the Future of Work?
  11. European Jewish CongressFrench Authorities to Root Out "Societal Antisemitism" After Jewish Family Assaulted
  12. European Federation of Local Energy CompaniesClean Energy for All? On 10.10 Top-Level Speakers Present the Clean Energy Package