Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

EU election turnout at record low after all

  • "This time is different" - the EP's slogan ahead of the EU vote (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The turnout for the European election in May fell to a record low, dealing a blow to claims by politicians - based on initial results - that a three-decade downward trend in voter participation had finally been halted.

The definitive turnout for the elections is 42.5 percent, down from 43 percent at the 2009 EU elections and down from the estimated 43.09 percent announced on 25 May, shortly after polls closed.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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 supposed upward spike, although small, was seized upon by several politicians as a highly symbolic break with the past where the percentage of those going to the polls continued to decrease as the parliament's legislative powers increased.

“The first good news of the night is that we have finally broken the downward trend of falling participation in European elections,” liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said on 25 May in Brussels.

“The European Parliament will be more representative than the previous one as average turnout across Europe is an improvement on 2009.”

Parliament spokesperson Jaume Duch at the time said the result, in view of the trend, was "historic".

The parliament quietly put the revised statistic on the EP website on 25 July, two months after the elections.

A spokesperson said the change was due to differences in estimated and final results in Spain and Italy. It took so long to get the final figure as counting methodology for invalid and blank votes had to be verified across all member states.

However, the parliament remained upbeat despite the revision.

"When you look at the final result and the figure that was estimated at the end of May - those two figures are very close. The final figure, which is a little bit lower than in 2009, confirms that the big descending tendency of previous years has been stopped," the spokesperson told this website.

Turnout has always been a sensitive issue for the assembly as it regularly positions itself as the most democratic of the EU institutions.

The election to the 751-seat parliament is seen as suffering from 'second order' syndrome where voters perceive the outcome as having little direct impact on their lives.

This has become an increasing embarrassment for the parliament which helps determine the shape of laws that affect almost every facet of citizens' lives from economic scrutiny of national budgets, to anti-pollution rules and consumer safety laws.

Additionally some had hoped that having EU commission-president candidates engage in TV debates and touring member states - a novelty for this year's vote - would help increase the numbers of those going to the polls.

While voter turnout did rise in some key countries - Germany (48.1%, up from 43.27% in 2009) and France (42.43%, up from 40.63% in 2009) - it fell in the majority, with Slovakia tailing at 13.05 percent.

Tusk summits to create new-model EU

Tusk has proposed a series of 13 top-level talks to take forward European reform, but his backing for a multi-speed Europe risks deepening divide.

Catalonia to declare independence in a few days

Spain's king, Felipe VI, said Catalonia's leaders were breaking up the country's unity as hundreds of thousands of Catalans rallied against police violence at Sunday's referendum.

EU Commission's credibility eroding, says Catalonia

A former commission official who now represents the Catalan government says some European commissioners do not agree with the EU commission's official statement on Catalonia's bid for independence from Spain.

Europeans more positive about EU, survey shows

On balance, 55 percent of British respondents said the UK had benefited from EU membership. Among all European respondents, 47 percent said their voice counted in the EU.

Austrian voters reject liberal status quo

Counting continues, but conservative leader Sebastian Kurz is likely to form a coalition with the far-right and could become one of the EU's most vocal critics.

News in Brief

  1. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  2. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  3. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  4. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  5. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  6. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  7. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure
  8. Icelandic journalists protest ban on reporting PM's finances

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year