After the introduction of the elections for the European Parliament in 1979 the turnout at European Elections has constantly decreased. By giving the european citizens the chance to elect the European Parliament, the EU tried to minimize the democratic deficit of the EU. They aimed to give European citizens a voice, through the MEPs. Today it seems that everybody has forgotten about this big step in the EU that has been taken 1979. Especially, the young generation does not value the right to vote for the European Parliamnent, since they have not experienced the development of the EU. However, also when I speak to older people, they often respond to the question if they will vote, that the EP anyway has no right.
It becomes clear that there is a lack of information regarding the recent developments in the European Union. In particular the Lisbon treaty, which extends Qualified Majority Voting to the third pillar and the extension of the co-decision procedure led the EP gain power in the EU. The co-decision procedure which is used for many legislations gives not only the Council but also the EP a right to veto. But this fact has unfortunately not reached European citizens until know, although there are big election campaigns sponsored by the EP.
The turnout at the European Elections 2009 will stagnate or decrease. That was stated by a survey of Eurobarometer in April 2009. Recently, the a study of the French Political Innovation Foundation showed that Europeans are even not interessed in the Elections. 18 percent are “absolute not” interessed in the Elections. 2004 only 45,5 percent Europeans voted.
Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden, which will take over the EU presidency in summer does not mind the low turnout at the European Elections. In his opinion voters only think “rational”, they would understand that the EU Elections are not that important for their future and their daily life points Reinfeldt out. In my opinion a very risky statement of Reinfeldt, since we all know especially now in the financial crisis how important the EU is for us although in the future.According to Reinfeldt Swedish people only elect a few MEPs, who does not have to decide so much compared to the national government. But can we compare the national government to the EU. I doubt.
French Political Innovation Foundation