French and Europeans alike are overlooking the European elections

Article published on March 6, 2009
Article published on March 6, 2009
The citizens of Europe seem worried, there are crises everywhere! Economic crises, threats to buying power, global warming… They’re worried about everything except the upcoming EU elections next June. A Eurobarometer poll carried out at the end of 2008 shows the lack of interest in these elections; of the 28,219 people above the age of 15 asked, across all 27 countries of the EU.

denyOnly 8% claimed to be ‘very interested’ by the elections, 36% ‘somewhat interested’, and 22% ‘not at all interested’. As further proof of this disinterest, the date of the elections was only known by 26% of those asked. The inhabitants of Luxembourg and Malta proved to be the best educated, with 56 and 55% respectively having learnt their European calendar. The French trailed far behind, with only 19% remembering the date of the 7th June 2009, as did only a mere 9% of the Finns asked.

We have great confidence in the Parliament, but…

In fact, only 28% of the poll’s participants were ‘absolutely certain they will vote’. Inversely, only 15% declared that they were ‘absolutely certain they will not vote’. The Belgians once again showed themselves to be the most Europhiles, with 55% planning to keep their Sunday 7th June free for the ballot box. Such is the case for less than half of the French (44%) and only 8% of the Portuguese. These rather disappointing results might seem paradoxical given that the European Parliament is the institution in which Europeans have the most faith, even if 45% of them find they are ‘fairly uninformed’ about its activities.

The reinforcement of legislative power

34% of Europeans have a positive image of legislative power, and 44% wish for it to play a larger role in the European Union’s everyday life, especially in projects aimed at reinforcing European citizenship. 39% of those asked would like to see a united social welfare system; 24% would look favourably on a European civil service (which would, for example, intervene in cases of European or international natural disasters); and 20% support the appointment of an EU President, as directly elected by its citizens. In wanting to reinforce this institution 73% of European participants in the poll emphasised the indispensable role of the Union with regard to international issues such as climate change or terrorism. To end on a positive note, the vast majority of Europeans, 72% to be precise, feel that what unites them to the Union is stronger than what divides them from it.

Source : The 2009 European elections : expectactions of the Europeans

Picture : Colt Bender/FlickR


Translated by Christina G. Connolly