Diagnose: (Youth) abstention in EP elections
Abstention has progressively increased since the first direct elections to the European Parliament, held in 1979 (see Figure 1). Several reasons explain this fact. European elections are not so “European”. They are usually regarded as “mid-term” or “second-order”, just like regional or local elections. They are fought by national parties and most often they test the performance of national governments, rather than that of MEPs. Therefore, EP elections play more the role of a referendum on national governments rather than on EU policies and people. Summed up to this, there is not enough information on EU affairs or, on the contrary, there is an information overflow with too much stress on the technicalities of EU policy-making, rather than on the politics of decision-making. This often results in the wide public losing interest in EU affairs. Moreover, citizens think voting in the EP elections has little impact on areas of most concern to voters, such as unemployment, taxation, social security, health, education, fight against crime, etc.
This article has been written by Joan Manuel Lanfranco Pari, Policy and Communications Manager at VoteWatch Europe, an independent organisation set up to promote better debates and greater transparency in EU decision-making.
This contribution was posted on the ARTE Blog: click here to read it.