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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

European Parliament elections. Why the low turnout in some countries?

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Just over half of those eligible went to elect members of the European Parliament across Europe. There are, of course, countries that can boast a good result, such as Germany – over 64 percent or Denmark and Cyprus – almost 60 percent. There are also places like Croatia and the Baltic countries, where 20-30 percent of voters turned out. Why were the citizens of these countries not interested in the elections, which have long been said to be one of the most important for the future of the Community?

3.7 million Croats could decide who they wanted to send to the European Parliament for the 12 seats they were entitled to. It could, but the vast majority didn't want to.

The elections were won by representatives of the Croatian Democratic Community – the party ruling the country. – Six seats are half of the places that could be won. This is a reward for Croatia in Schengen, for Croatia in the EU, for Croatia in the European Stability Mechanism – commented Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister of Croatia.

However, such a victory leaves one unsatisfied. Only 21 percent of those eligible went to the polls

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“In this year's European Parliament elections, Croatia and Lithuania are the only member states with voter turnout below 30 percent, and thanks to the low turnout, Croatia broke the record set by Slovakia in 2019,” reads the Croatian website NIN.rs. In 2019, turnout in the European elections in Slovakia was 23 percent.

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Exit poll results in Germany TVN24BiŚ

“I thought people would care more.”

In Lithuania, the low interest in the European elections may be puzzling. Especially since in the previous European elections, in 2019, 53 percent of people voted there. However, the decline in attendance has a very specific justification.

“This is the second time that elections to the European Parliament in Lithuania were held separately from the presidential elections. The first time European elections were held separately in 2009, when 20 percent of eligible voters cast their votes,” reports the Lithuanian LRT portal.

The situation was not much better in Bulgaria (32 percent), Slovakia (34 percent) and Latvia (34 percent). – I would say it's a little surprising that there were so few voters. I thought people would care more about who Latvia sends to Brussels, comments Martins Brencis, a resident of Riga.

In Latvia, however, there were no overall surprises regarding turnout. – That's the way it is with these elections. We have had a turnout of 30 percent several times in a row. Personally, I voted and I think it is necessary, but what can be done? – says Elmars Barkans, a resident of Riga.

Where were people willing to vote?

Slovenia significantly improved its result. A record was broken with turnout of 41% compared to 29% five years earlier. Voting in the elections took place with a controversial triple referendum: two questions concerned marijuana and one concerned euthanasia. The opposition, which won, opposed linking these matters with the elections.

– I think that the reaction of the Slovenian electorate also results from the manipulations that have taken place in recent weeks. I am not just talking about redirecting attention to issues that are not important either for the citizens of Slovenia or for the future of the European Union. I also mean the violation of the rules of procedure of the State Assembly, comments Janez Janša, leader of the opposition Slovenian Democratic Party.

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On a pan-European scale, interest in the elections was similar to that in 2019. Both turnout rates are almost the same: 50.66 percent in 2019 and 50.93 percent in 2024. – Democracy is alive, our parliament will continue to work for all Europeans – announced the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.

Germans voted eagerly – as many as 64 percent of eligible voters elected their MEPs. The record was broken – as always – in Belgium, where participation in elections is obligatory and 89 percent of eligible voters fulfilled this obligation.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: RONALD WITTEK/PAP

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