12.02.2019 – 10:00
Declining voter turnout in European Parliament election
Ever since the first direct elections for the European Parliament voter turnout across the bloc has been in continuous decline. 40 years ago, average turnout across the nine member states amounted to 62 per cent. At the most recent election in 2014, only 42.6 per cent of the eligible voters from the 28 member states found their way to the voting booth. The country with the lowest voter participation was Slovakia with only 13 per cent of registered voters - a further fall from 2004, when the turnout was 17 per cent, a record low at the time for any country in the EU.
The countries with the highest participation levels were Belgium at 89.6 per cent and Luxembourg at 85.5 per cent - however, voting is compulsory in both countries. Hungary (29 per cent), Croatia (25.2 per cent), Slovenia (24.5 per cent), Poland (23.8 per cent) and the Czech Republic (18.2 per cent) all recorded a turnout of less than 30 per cent.
The fact that turnout levels vary greatly from country to country has several reasons, experts say: countries where the citizens traditionally have a high interest in national elections also tend to record high participation figures for European elections. In some countries, voting is mandatory, although non-voters aren't prosecuted. Voters in the United Kingdom have been a notable exception: in 2014, only 35.6 per cent cast their vote in the European election.
German voters are also more likely to vote in regional and national polls than in European elections: in 2014, 48.1 per cent took part. More Germans were inspired to take part in the first direct election in 1979: at 65.7 per cent voter turnout was higher than the European average. However, just five years later the rate dropped below the European average. Election researchers note that many people aren't aware about how much of an impact decisions made in Brussels and Strasbourg have on their everyday lives.
The following interactive diagram visualises voter participation levels in the individual member states:
[Attention: These images are intended exclusively for editorial use in connection with the current coverage and may be used only when using the copyright notice "Photo: dpa".]