European Parliament Elections 2004 : results

The 2004 elections have continued the downward trend in voter participation in European elections. In the new Member States, only slightly over a quarter of the electorate took part. Regarding the balance of power in the EP, the EPP-ED group remains the largest political group in the Parliament. A new pro-European centrist group and a new anti-European group are on the cards. EURACTIV has compiled a table with lists of elected MEPs and websites where official results are posted.

Background

 

Since 1979, the European Parliament has been directly elected every five years. Between 10-13 June 2004, twenty-five countries sent 732 new members to the European Parliament.

Issues

 

"Europeanness" of the EP election campaign 2004

The European elections in 2004 were fought largely on national issues and resulted in the lowest turnout in the history of the European elections, suggesting an increasing distance between the EU institutions and the citizens.

In many Member States, the ruling parties suffered substantial losses and the European elections have mainly served to teach national governments a lesson).

Voter turnout in European elections 2004

Voter turnout in European elections 2004 has followed the downward trend experienced since 1979. This represents a participation figure of 45.5 per cent for the EU as a whole, with a participation 47.1 per cent per cent in the EU-15 and of 26.4 per cent of eligible voters in the new Member States.

The figures suggest that the EP elections have triggered significantly less interest in the new Member States than in the EU-25. Participation was the lowest in Slovakia with 16.96 per cent. The voter turnout was highest in Malta with 82 per cent.

The strikingly low levels of interest in the Central and Eastern European new members appears to demonstrate that the information campaigns put into place prior to the referenda on EU accession was insufficient and needs to be followed up. This raises the question as to whether turnout figures could put these countries into a weak negotiating position in future negotiations on the new EU budget.

Voter turnout 1979 and 2004 in the EU-15

Country 1979 1984 1989 1994 (95: SE, AT, FI) 1999 2004 Trend
Austria 67.7 49.4 41.8 Downward
Belgium 91.4 92.2 90.7 90.7 91.0 90.8 Downward (mandatory voting)
Denmark 47.8 52.2 47.4 52.9 50.5 47.8 Downward
Finland 57.6 31.4 41.1 Upward
France 60.7 56.7 48.8 52.7 46.8 43.1 Downward
Germany 65.7 56.8 62.3 60.0 45.2 43 Downward
Greece 78.6 77.2 80.1 80.4 75.3 62.8 Downward (mandatory voting)
Ireland 63.6 47.6 68.3 44.0 50.2 59.7 Upward
Italy 84.9 83.4 81.4 74.8 70.8 73.1 Upward
Luxembourg 88.9 87.0 96.2 88.5 87.3 90 Upward (mandatory voting)
Netherlands 58.1 50.6 47.5 35.6 30.0 39.1 Upward
Portugal 72.4 51.2 35.5 40 38.7 Downward
Spain 68.9 54.7 59.1 63 45.9 Downward
Sweden 41.6 38.8 37.2 Downward
United K ingdom 32.2 31.8 36.6 36.4 24.0 38.9 Upward
* * * * * * * *
Cyprus 71.19
Czech Republic 27.9
Estonia 26.89
Hungary 38.47
Latvia 41.23
Lithuania 48.2
Malta 82.4
Poland 20.4
Slovakia 16.7
Slovenia 28.3

Division of power in the EP (2004-2009)

Prior the first plenary meeting of the European Parliament on 20 July, negotiations will be ongoing to decide on the make-up of the political groups in the newly elected Parliament. European parliamentary rules set that new groups must have at least 19 members from five different member states. The Parliament elections website has compiled a provisional

table indicating the distribution of seats for each of the national parties within the EP political groups , as they stand now.

The centre-right EPP-ED will remain the most powerful group in the 2004-2009 European Parliament, taking 276 out of the 732 MEPs - on the basis of the current affiliations to the EPP-ED political group. The German CDU/CSU delegation is the strongest party in this group with 49 seats. Mr. P�ring therefore is likely to be elected as next President of the Parliament. The EPP-ED group is the only one with members from all 25 Member States.

The social-democrats (PES) will get 200 seats in the next Parliament. The French (31) and Spanish (25) socialists have overtaken the German delegation.

The liberal ELDR group does slightly worse than expected in the forecasts. The UK Liberal Democrats are the biggest delegation (12) in this group. However, with 67 seats, the group keeps its key position between the two big blocs. Graham Watson, the leader of the liberal democrats political group in the European Parliament, wants to set up a new pro-European centrist group, "involving the liberals, the UDF of Fran殩s Bayrou, Romano Prodi's troops in Italy and quite possibly others. This group would create a dynamic of its own as a third pole between the socialists and the right-wing" (See

interview with ELDR leader Gra ham Watson ).

The Greens/EFA group has done better than expected. They ended up in fourth place with 42 new MEPs. The German Greens will be the leading delegation in this group. No Green was chosen in the new Member States. Only in Latvia, one EFA was elected.

The leftist GUE group will have 39 MEPs with the German PDS (7) as the biggest delegation. Together the left bloc of PES, Greens/EFA and GUE will have 279 members.

The Union of Europe of the Nations (UEN) will take 27 seats with the Italian Alleanza Nazionale as the biggest delegation.

In theory, the eurosceptics of Mr Bonde's EDD group will not have enough members to create a new group (5 Member States and 19 MEPs). With only 15 seats (UKIP: 12) they will probably 'go shopping' and hope for support of the Austrian Martin list (3) and the Europa Transparant MEPs of van Buitenen (2).

One of the open questions is whether the extreme right parties will be able to form a new parliamentary group. If the rightist parties can overcome their differences, they could form a group with 36 MEPs.

Here is a table indicating surveys carried out in each country, the websites where official results will be posted and others with list of MEP candidates:

Country Surveys Official results ELECTED CANDIDATES Media pages
EU-25
Austria <strong>Austrian MEPs
Belgium
Belgian MEPs
Cyprus Ministry of interior - EP elections <strong>Cypriot MEPs
Czech Republic <strong>Czech MEPs
Denmark <strong>Danish MEPs
Estonia <strong>Estonian MEPs
Finland <strong>Finnish MEPs
  • Helsinki Sanomat: news
France <strong>French MEPs
Germany

 

German MEPs
Greece n/a Ministry of Interior - EP Elections' results <strong>Greek MEPs n/a
Hungary Hungarian government portal on EP elections <strong>Hungarian MEPs
Ireland European Parliament Office in Ireland <strong>Irish MEPs
Italy n/a Ministry of Interior <strong>Italian MEPs
Latvia Central Election Commission <strong>Latvian MEPs n/a
Lithuania Central Electoral Committee <strong>Lithuanian MEPs n/a
Luxembourg n/a n/a <strong>Luxembourger MEPs
Malta Department of Information <strong>Maltese MEPs Di-ve: EP elections 2004
Netherlands <strong>Dutch MEPs
Poland National Election Committee <strong>Polish MEPs
Portugal National Election Committee <strong>Portuguese MEPs Diaro digital Uni&amp;#227;o Europeia
Slovakia Ministry of Interior - EP elections <strong>Slovak MEPs
Slovenia National Election Committee <strong>Slovene MEPs
Spain <strong>Spanish MEPs
Sweden National Election Committee <strong>Swedish MEPs
United Kingdom Electoral Commission, EP elections r esults <strong>UK MEPs

Positions

Outgoing European Parliament President Pat Cox said: "Regrettably, Europe is too absent from European elections in east and west."

Commenting on the low turnout in the new member states, John Palmer, director of European Policy Centre, said to EURACTIV: "These elections have not been about anything, nothing about which direction Europe is going. And this has especially affected turn out in the new Members States where the voters are tired of elections, having recently gone through referenda on the accession to the EU."

Sebastian Kurpas, researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), said to EURACTIV: "Even if participation has gone up in a number of old EU Member States, it is hard to see it as a greater engagement in European politics. Rather the election has been used by voters to 'present the bill' to ruling governments. In the UK the theme was the Iraq war, in Germany the economic performance of the Schr� government, in Italy on the figure of Silvio Berlusconi." To Mr Kurpas it seems that it is largely national themes dominating the debate and the participation varies according to the strength of these. The very low participation the new Members States can be seen as a sort of 'post accession blues' says Mr Kurpas."It is not clear what is all about to voters, So it has been a bit difficult to motivate them."

"There is a lack of awareness of what Europe is and does. It is too far removed from the ordinary citizen. Not European, but national elections were on the agenda of the election campaigns," Marek Hannibal, spokesperson from the EPP-ED group for the Czech Republic said on the low turnout in the Central and Eastern European new Member States.

President of the Young European Federalists (JEF-Europe) Jon Worth underlined this point. "The clear message from these elections is that the European Union is presently not meeting its citizens’ needs. The European elections have proven to be too abstract, too distant. No one knows what will change after voting one way or another in the European elections. That simply has to change." JEF-Europe would grant more power to the European Parliament. As a first step, it would give it powers to elect the President of the European Commission.

John Hontelez, head of the largest federation of environmental organisations in Europe, said 'these elections show that Member States' governments and the European Commission have failed to increase the EU's credibility with its citizens. Only four out of ten voters gave their vote to parties supporting the EU. The others were just not motivated, or actively supported parties critical or dismissive of the EU'. He continued, 'For many citizens, the EU is not recognised as the body that works for a better quality of life and for a safe and prosperous future for our children. The work of the EU institutions on sustainable development, protection of public health and environmental protection was not publicised enough in the election campaigns'.

"The low turn out at th e European elections shows that a new form of dialogue between the European Union and its citizens has to be established," said Christoph Leitl, President of EUROCHAMBRES. He continued: "Europe has not got its message through to its citizens". Mr Leitl warned against ignoring the low voter turnout and the big success of the eurosceptic parties: "Europe can only be built via a bottom-up approach. We will fail if we do not succeed to enthuse people for the European idea. Therefore, information and communication about the benefits of the European Union for each citizen must play a bigger part in the way European institutions go about their business."

Timeline

  • 20 July: election of the European Parliament's President and Vice-President
  • 22 July: EP vote on the Commission's President
  • The next European elections will be held in 2009.

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