Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

EU parliament unveils €16mn 'go and vote' campaign

  • The election slogan on the parliament building in Strasbourg (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Parliament on Tuesday (10 September) began a €16-million effort to persuade people to go to the polls in next year's EU election amid rising unease about ever decreasing voter turnout.

The campaign, to run for one year, is designed to inform people what the world's second largest assembly does and why it is worth voting during the 22-25 May election period.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"We have a strong message. Do exercise your right to vote," said Greek socialist Anni Podimata. "The only way to legitimise and influence EU decision-making is through the European Parliament."

Austrian centre-right MEP Othmar Karas said: "We see it as an obligation to explain why your vote is important."

Their efforts after a eurobarometer survey released last week found that less than four in 10 Europeans feel that their voice counts in the EU.

The campaign is to have four phases, with the initial one explaining the legislative powers of MEPs.

The second phase, from October, will have "interactive events" in EU cities which will focus on key topics such as jobs and the economy.

The third phase, from February, will remind people of when the elections are, using the slogan "Act, React, Impact."

This phase will be saying "go and vote," Karas noted.

The final stage, after the election, will highlight the voting-in of the new European Commission President.

"In Europe, every opinion gets a fair chance. The decisions of the European Parliament are driven by everything that matters to you," says a campaign video with allusions to themes of war, peace, poverty, death and birth, on the parliament's website.

A 52-second video due to appear in all 28 member states will promise that "this time it's different."

This refers both to the parliament's huge array of new legislative powers compared to the previous 2009 election and that citizens' votes will for the first time affect who will be the next commission leader.

Podimata noted the context is also different, saying it is "unique in terms of the crisis and the very bad view that citizens have of the crisis."

The campaigning is starting as the EU faces record unemployment rates in several member states and a feeling among citizens that the Union is responsible for the drastic state of the economy.

Meanwhile, in Brussels, there is general concern that another low turnout - it dropped to 42 percent in 2009 - could play into the hands of populist or extremist parties.

The widespread feeling that the EU vote is of little local consequence also makes people more likely to vote for fringe parties.

Much of the campaign's success will be down to MEPs connecting with voters, particularly young people.

But while a third of the budget is to be spent on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, Karas acknowledged that MEPs cannot be "forced" to be more active on such platforms.

Approval of EU leadership lowest in Greece

Approval of EU leadership was lowest in bailed-out Greece in 2013 while Spain saw a 32 percentage point drop in support between the 2008 and 2013, a fresh Gallup poll showed.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

MEPs call on EU countries to deal with Hungary

MEPs who launched a procedure examining the democratic situation in Hungary last year now want member states to step up efforts. The government in Budapest meanwhile accuses MEPs of attacking Hungary over migration.

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Opinion

The test for Sweden's new government

While the formation of a new government ends Sweden's fourth-month paralysis, it doesn't resolve the challenge from radical-right populists in Sweden. A key question remains: will treating populists like pariahs undercut the appeal of their, often anti-rights, politics?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  2. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  3. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  4. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  5. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  6. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  7. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  8. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us