Saturday

28th May 2022

European elections marked by record low turnout

The turnout in the 2009 European elections was the lowest ever since direct elections for the house started thirty years ago, with Slovakia getting the lowest score for the second time in a row.

The 4-7 June election saw 43 percent of the 375 million Europeans entitled to vote go to the polls, according to preliminary results published on Monday afternoon (8 June) by TNS Sofres for the European Parliament.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Less and less Europeans have been voting through the years (Photo: European Parliament/Bruno Amsellem)

This result is more than two points lower than in 2004, which was then the lowest in the parliament's history at 45.5%.

Besides Belgium and Luxembourg where voting is compulsory and turnout is traditionally around 90 percent, the figures were highest in Malta, where almost 79 percent of the citizens cast their vote.

Other countries where a majority of people voted included Italy (66.5%), Denmark (59.5%), Cyprus (59.4%), Greece (52.6%), and Latvia (52.6%).

By contrast, only 19.6 of Slovaks voted on Saturday. In the country's first EU election in 2004, it registered the lowest ever score in the bloc's history at 17 percent.

Lithuania came second with 20.9 percent – a dramatic drop compared to its first election in 2004, when almost half of Lithuanians voted (48.4%).

Some 24.5 percent voted in Poland and 28.2 percent in the Czech Republic and in Slovenia.

The bloc's newest members, Bulgaria and Romania, showed opposing trends, with Bulgarians demonstrating more voting enthusiasm (37.5% - up from 29% in the country's first elections in 2007) than their northern neighbours (27.4% - down from 29.5% in 2007).

'Don't know why' it was so low

Speaking at a press conference after the announcement of the results, the leaders of the European Parliament's main parties said they were concerned about the low turnout and that it did raise a number of questions.

"I don't know why [the turnout is so low] and we need to study why people don't go out and vote," Liberal leader Graham Watson said.

According to Mr Watson, citizens' will to vote would increase if they saw a stronger link between their vote and EU decision-making, namely if the European Commission president were appointed from the ranks of the European Parliament, or a certain percentage of MEPs were elected from pan-European lists.

For Socialist leader Martin Schulz, the low turnout shows that "the vote doesn't have much to do with European policy."

"There's a trend towards the re-nationalisation of Europe," Mr Schulz said, adding that the issue could eventually raise the question of the legitimacy of the elections.

The parliament's outgoing president Hans-Gert Poettering from the conservative EPP-ED faction said: "We have to increase turnout if we can," but said this does not mean going back to the old system where MEPs were appointed by national parliaments.

For his part, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso called on national politicians to introduce more a more European angle to their politics.

Opinion

Why do MEPs fear electoral reform?

As Parliament begins to prepare for the next elections in 2014, MEPs should ask themselves if the quality of the election campaign will be an advance on previous elections, writes Andrew Duff.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

Orbán's new state of emergency under fire

Hungary's premier Viktor Orbán declared a state of emergency due to the war in neighbouring Ukraine hours after pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament, where two-thirds of MPs are controlled by his Fidesz party, allowing his government special powers.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us