Slightly higher election turnout averted a ‘big disaster’

  
Young voter
Seulement 29% des jeunes ont été voter lors des européennes de 2009. [Shutterstock]

Against all odds, Europeans have averted yet another decline in voter turnout in the European Parliament elections, which remained stable at 43.1%.

“For the first time, it is going up and not going down as we have seen in the last 30 years,” said Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt after the provisional figures were released.

Hannes Swoboda, the leader of the centre-left group, the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), added that the forecasted big disaster did not happen.

Turnout is seen as a critical test for European democracy, and it has fallen steadily and consistently since 1979, from 62% in the first election in 1979 to 43% in the 2009 election.

“We have finally broken the downward trend of falling participation in European elections. The eighth legislature of the European Parliament will be more representative than the previous one as average turnout across Europe is an improvement on 2009,” said Verhofstadt.

“Although there are some disappointingly low participation rates in several countries, higher than average participation in the larger member states has ensured a higher overall figure. This is all the more remarkable given the severity of the financial crisis that will have led many voters to stay at home or register their abstention.”

The countries that suffered the most from the crisis turned up to the polls in force, with Greece hitting 57.4%, Ireland 51% and Italy 60%. Slovakia posted the lower score with only 13% of voters turning up.

Four EU countries have a compulsory voting law for the European Parliament elections; Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Cyprus. While Belgium and Luxembourg show a turnout of 90%, the figure is still low in the two other countries.

An overview of the member states showed voter turnout went up the most in Lithuania (16.3%) and in Romania (7%).

In Latvia, the voter turnout dropped significantly. The number of Latvian citizens who cast their votes dropped by as much as 23.7%. In Cyprus, it dropped by 17 percentage points; and in the Czech Republic by 8.7 percentage points.

Thank you ‘Spitzenkandidaten’

From the left and right of the political spectrum, politicians hailed the candidates for European Commission president, for pushing the numbers up.

“The Spitzenkandidaten, have been crisscrossing Europe for the past few months, raising awareness of the forthcoming election and openly debating their policy differences for Europe’s future," LSE professor and chairman of the transparency organisation VoteWatch, Simon Hix, told EurActiv on Sunday night. "This proves the validity of the experiment to personalise the campaigns and focus them on European issues rather than allow national parties to turn the elections for the European Parliament into a referendum on domestic issues.”

"The campaign has actually taken on a life of its own," Hix added. "Schulz in particular has turned this into a proper election campaign."

European Parliament spokesperson, Jaume Duch, announcing the result on Sunday evening:

 

 
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Comments

A Londoner's picture

It is clear from Verhofstadt's remarks that Eurofederalism is a religion based on faith not reason!

Charles_m's picture

It's great to see politicians squirming and digging ever bigger holes for themselves, especially the likes of Verhofstadt, who's grip on reality is so tenuous that it should exclude him from any position of responsibility.

an european's picture

The two anti-federalists nagger from Ukip into force again ...

GeorgeMc's picture

English please.

Iwantout's picture

European,

If I may I will join as a third anti federalist.

If the voter turnout had fallen by 0.1% it would have been discounted as irrelevant, but because it is a 0.1% increase we should all be cheered by this endorsement of European democracy. I would remind you that despite the spitzenkandidaten farce, 56.9% of the electorate stayed at home.

From a purely UK perspective, the Lib Dems who were the only party to actively campaign on a pro EU ticket have been virtually wiped out while UKIP did rather well, sort of tells you exactly how people here feel about the EU.

an european's picture

"If the voter turnout had fallen by 0.1%"

Wrong 2009 43% / 2014 43.11%

It rose by 0.11% !!!

Maybe we need compulsive election Not?

Ukip is irrelevant because the parliament takes in account that U.K. is pursuing it's Brexit !
Anyway the Eurozone18 which need it's federal values is less relevant for the UK ....without Scotland !
What's interest for the U.K, is only free trade but that will end it too !

"only party to actively campaign on a pro EU ticket have been virtually wiped out"

In no way wipe outed !! Christian democrats are as pro federalist as liberals when it comes for Jobs , currency and the importance of the biggest economy of the World !!

Merely Kipper & Splitters will be wipeouted from a greater Coalition in the parliament until Brexit !

Chip's picture

Nice to see that pro federalist comments are automatically blocked.

Charles_m's picture

since when?

an european's picture

I know where it is heading on ! But obviously the more fed it goes the more unbelievable for Kippers & splitters !

GeorgeMc's picture

UK voter participation down to 33.8%

an european's picture

33.8% Well I'm glad !!
Why waiting ? Cameron should make the Referendum of Britain "ambitious" E.U. relation now ?
Not?

GeorgeMc's picture

Nice to see Scotland is no longer a UKIP free area. I'm off to buy myself a tasty celebratory Kipper!

an european's picture

@GeorgeMC
"Your" english ? No thanks !
Can't blame you ! Remember your 1200% of Scots GDP ! You know ? Ha ha ha
thanks anyway ...

GeorgeMc's picture

Are you referring to Scotlands finance sector being 1200% of Scotlands GDP, or in simple English, 12 times (x)?

an european's picture

Quote: "The reason that the UK government and all the main opposition parties have said that Scotland cannot be guaranteed by the Bank of England is because the financial sector in Scotland represents 1200 percent of Scotlands GDP. Would any reasonable government back a foreign country to that extent?"

Is that what you wrote ?

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