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European Parliament elections – getting out the vote - 13/03/2013

MEPs meeting at the European Parliament in Strasbourg © EU

Better information about candidates’ political positions and party affiliations – and one fixed election day – would get more people to the polls.

For the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, the Commission wants to encourage more people to cast their vote.

Participation in the elections has been declining – in 2009 only 43% of those eligible voted. Reversing this trend is important for European democracy, as members of the European Parliament directly represent EU citizens, who vote every 5 years to elect them.

This could be achieved by providing voters with better information about candidates’ political positions and party affiliations. A lack of information is one of the major reasons for low voter turnout. The recent Eurobarometer survey #364 on electoral rights found that:

  • 84% of Europeans think more voters would turn out if they had more information about the EU’s impact on their daily lives, and about parties’ programmes
  • 73% believe that they would be more likely to vote if they had more information about candidates’ political affiliations
  • 62% think having party affiliated candidates for Commission president and voting held throughout Europe on the same day would increase turnout.

Informing voters

In response the Commission is calling on national political parties to clearly let voters know to which European political party they are affiliated. This would help voters connect national political platforms with European ones.

European and national political parties should announce their preferred candidate for the next Commission president.

This is important for voters to know. Under new rules, Parliament is responsible for electing new Commission presidents, who are proposed by leaders of national governments meeting in the European Council Proposals must take into account the results of European elections.

Another recommendation is for EU countries to set a common day for European elections, with polling stations closing at the same time. Currently, countries can hold elections over a period of four days.

Next steps

It is now up to EU countries to implement the recommendations before the 2014 elections.

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