Nine months and counting

The run-up to the 2014 EU elections prompt the last European Parliament’s Eurobarometer survey to focus on the electorates’ opinion on the European project and the European elections scheduled to 22-25 May 2014.

The results, which were published this week, also kick off the institutional information campaign on the European elections 2014, aiming to explain the relevance of the European Parliament’s work to citizens’ daily lives.

Here are some of the highlights:

Starting with the positive, results show that citizens support the EU identity and favour EU integration. That is demonstrated by:

  • 49% of Europeans who declared that they feel “national and European” against 38% who feel “national only”. 
  • 48% of citizens who see a sense of attachment to the EU.
  • 72% of Europeans who think that what brings them together is more important than what divides them.
  • 54% of Europeans who say they believe that their country has benefited from being a member of the EU. However this sentiment varies strongly among the Member States.
  • Last but not least 44% of respondents who say they are satisfied with how democracy works in the EU.

Moving on to the less positive, the economic and social issues clearly continue to be core concerns of Europeans. This is illustrated by the following replies:

  • Asked what are the challenges to be addressed by 2025, 55% of the respondents named the fight against unemployment, 32% said social inequalities, and 32% stated the public debt in Member States.
  • Asked what would strengthen their sense of being a European citizen, 41% of respondents said a harmonized European social welfare system and 34% answered that being able to live in any EU Member State after retirement.

On the issue of democracy and EU affairs a worrying trend is seen with the 57% of the citizens who do not believe their voice count in the EU, further to 58% of respondents who said they have no interest in European politics…

The last finding poses one of the hardest obstacles we must overcome: making our citizens understand that the EU is at their service. In many aspects, our success to achieving this goal will be demonstrated by the turnouts to the 2014 elections.

Looking at past elections, in 2004 voters’ turnout on the EU25 level was 45.5% with Luxembourg and Belgium being the countries with the highest voting records (91.4% and 90.8% respectively). Slovakia was the country with the lowest turnout of only 17%.
Poland didn’t rank much higher as only 20.9% of the citizens voted in the EU elections.

In contrast the 2009 elections saw lower voters’ turnout of the EU 27 level with 43%. Luxembourg and Belgium continued to be the countries with the highest records of votes: 90.8% and 90.4% respectively. Slovakia maintained the bottom rank but with a slight increase in turnout to 19.6%. Poland saw a modest increase to 24.5% of voter’s turnout.

Topping these results goes hand in hand with European citizens understanding and fully exercising their political power. Regardless the common belief, in a democracy very vote has a value!

Greetings from the European Parliament,

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg

—–

The European Parliament’s Eurobarometer One year to go to the 2014 European is available in the following link:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdf/eurobarometre/2013/election/synth_finale_en.pdf

Voter turnout in national and EU parliamentary elections is available in the following link: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_details/dataset?p_product_code=TSDGO310

 

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