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Europe's Unpopular Elections: Who Is to Blame for EU Voter Apathy? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Voter turnout for this week's European parliamentary election is expected to be the lowest since direct elections began 30 years ago. Is this the fault of the parliament itself? Inadequate media coverage? Or are national governments failing in their responsibility to educate the electorate?

The European election campaign is out of this world. Literally. Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne is beaming down a message from space calling on his fellow Europeans to vote in this week's European parliamentary election. "I have arranged to vote by proxy, so I won't miss out on the next European elections while I'm up here," he announced from the International Space Station in a video transmitted on Wednesday, adding somewhat unconvincingly: "Europe looks united from up here."

This plea from the cosmos is just part of a big PR offensive the European Parliament press office is hoping will get out the vote from June 4-7. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook and video site YouTube have been harnessed to connect with young people; press releases are fired out on a daily if not hourly basis extolling the virtues of the European Union; star footballers Olli Kahn, David Villa, Luis Figo have even been recruited to lure Europe's sporting fans to the voting booth.

After all that hard work, however, the looming election seems to have whipped up all the excitement of a cricket match on a wet Sunday afternoon.

by Fran on Thu Jun 4th, 2009 at 03:39:11 PM EST
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