by Sven Triloqvist
Fri Jan 16th, 2009 at 07:16:41 AM EST
Wikipedia: "Elections to the European Parliament will be held in the 27 member states of the European Union (EU) between 4 and 7 June 2009, the actual polling days varying from country to country according to local custom: in the United Kingdom, for instance, voting will take place on 4 June, a Thursday. 785 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will be elected by proportional representation to represent some 515,000,000 EU citizens, making these the biggest trans-national elections in history."
The Parliament is the only directly elected EU institution.
Disclaimer: I will be working this year on specific parts of the MEP campaign of one of the Finnish pro-Europe political parties.
One of the key issues that political parties putting forward MEP candidates have to consider is the `unsexiness' of the elections, leading to low voter turnout. In 2004, turnout in Finland was 41.1%
Here's a bit more background from the independent group Euractiv.
First, their `about us'
EurActiv brings together the skills of professionals with experience in EU affairs, journalism, information and communication as well as Internet technology. For its content, EurActiv relies not only on its own editorial team but also on numerous content partnerships, as well as links to the national press and the EU institutions.
EurActiv is independent. It is not another website of the EU institutions but complements websites like Europa by focusing on non-institutional EU Actors too. In order to provide free services and ensure independence, EurActiv's services are financed from four sources (corporate sponsoring, EurActor membership, online advertising and EU projects).
Here is their take on the 2004 elections:
Europeanness" of the EP election campaign 2004
The European elections in 2004 were fought largely on national issues and resulted in the lowest turnout in the history of the European elections, suggesting an increasing distance between the EU institutions and the citizens.
In many Member States, the ruling parties suffered substantial losses and the European elections have mainly served to teach national governments a lesson.
Voter turnout in European elections 2004
Voter turnout in European elections 2004 has followed the downward trend experienced since 1979. This represents a participation figure of 45.5 per cent for the EU as a whole, with a participation of 47.1 per cent per cent in the EU-15 and of 26.4 per cent of eligible voters in the new Member States.
The figures suggest that the EP elections have triggered significantly less interest in the new Member States than in the EU-25. Participation was the lowest in Slovakia with 16.96 per cent. The voter turnout was highest in Malta with 82 per cent.
The strikingly low levels of interest in the Central and Eastern European new members appears to demonstrate that the information campaigns put into place prior to the referenda on EU accession was insufficient and needs to be followed up. This raises the question as to whether turnout figures could put these countries into a weak negotiating position in future negotiations on the new EU budget.
This is not a failure on the part of the citizens, but a failure of the EU institutions to communicate how their work impacts upon citizens, and the denial of dialogue with the citizenry.
The EU is, of course, a work in progress. Like our brains, it contains many decision-making conflicts. Our brains seem to work most of the time, so why not the EU? The problem may be DID - Dissociative Identity Disorder, or what used to be called multiple personality disorder, brought about by stress or trauma. It is a medical condition that may not exist, or at least only be prevalent in the US and Turkey.
Or then again, not.
Can we help to make the EU sexy? Is it just about turnout, or are there deeper questions?
We have 16 weeks or so to make a difference...or wait another 5 years