Wednesday

30th Sep 2020

EU elections heading for record low turnout

With European Parliament elections fast approaching, EU citizens are less interested in the poll than ever before in a situation that could see the abstention rate across the bloc hit a record 66 percent.

A soon to be released survey from the European Commission's polling service, Eurobarometer, shows that interest in the election is weak right across the union, reports France's Liberation daily.

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  • This June, a majority of Europeans will not be heading anywhere near a polling station (Photo: Wikipedia)

The newest EU citizens, from member states that joined in 2004 and 2007, are as indifferent as their "old European" cousins, who have decades of experience in EU electoral listlessness.

Only 17 percent of Poles intend to vote in the 4 to 7 June elections - the lowest figure of all member states, reports the survey, carried out between January and February this year.

Ascending the ladder, some 21 percent of Austrians intend to vote in the polls, followed by 22 percent of Britons, 24 percent of Portuguese and a quarter of Slovaks.

Just over a quarter of Czechs, Hungarians and Spaniards say they will make a detour out of their day to head to the polling station, while just under a third of Italians and Bulgarians will do likewise (30% and 31%).

Germany, the most populous of the EU states, is likely to see 43 percent of its citizens vote, according to Eurobarometer. France and the Netherlands, home to the rejectionists of the EU's Constitutional Treaty, come close to half the voting public, with both nations on 47 percent. Some 48 percent of Cypriots and Greeks and 49 percent of Swedes plan to go to the urns.

Only in Malta (56%), Denmark (56%), Luxembourg (62%) and Belgium (70%) will a majority of citizens of voting age cast a ballot in the parliamentary elections. In the latter two countries, voting in elections is mandatory.

The sole silver lining from the survey is that the record abstinence appears to be no indication of growing euroscepticism, but rather a feeling that the vote will not make any difference. Just 20 percent of those surveyed cited rejection of the construction of a European community as their reason for not voting.

However, some 64 percent said they were not intending to vote because they had little knowledge of the role of MEPs while 62 percent said it was because voting would not change anything.

Just say No to abstinence

Meanwhile, the European Commission is hoping to convince young people to say "No" to abstinence.

The EU executive has hooked up with MTV to launch an EU-wide campaign similar to the music channel's celebrated "Rock the Vote" initiative in the US to urge youngsters to take part in the June poll.

The European version, a somewhat less boisterous "Can You Hear Me, Europe?" will see a series of TV spots running regularly on the network's various European stations as well as an interactive website and publicity stunts in EU national capitals.

Voter participation is particularly low in the EU, with only 40 percent of young people casting a ballot in the 2004 parliamentary elections and 45.5 percent of people overall.

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