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Little Excitement Among Voters for European Parliament Election - NYTimes.com

[...] The elections in early June are likely to be remembered for two things: how well fringe parties will do in an anxious period of economic recession, and how few Europeans will bother to vote.

Only 34 percent of the some 380 million eligible Europeans say they will probably vote, while 15 percent say they will not vote in any circumstances, according to the latest Eurobarometer poll. The numbers are worst where the extreme right is expected to do well, with only 22 percent of Britons admitting they will probably vote (while 30 percent say they won't) and only 13 percent of Poles. Even in Greece, where voting is mandatory, only 48 percent say they will probably cast ballots.

"The danger is that those who do bother, vote for the more radical elements," said Thomas Klau of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Given the economic crisis, he said, there is "a degree of voter indifference, which is a reflection of the lack of political leadership we have seen."

Europeans will choose a Parliament for the seventh time in 30 years, but turnout has fallen with each enlargement and each election, from 62 percent in 1979 to 48 percent in 2004 -- roughly 20 percent lower than in corresponding national parliamentary elections.

The reasons for the Euro-apathy are much debated. As the only directly elected European institution, the Parliament has real power and is likely to get more. It can amend or reject proposals for new laws from the European Commission, which runs the bureaucracy. Few Europeans realize it, but the bulk of their legislation on issues like the environment, consumer rights and transport is made in this way, rather than in national capitals.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:05:40 AM EST
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