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European Parliament elections – world-weary voters make their choice …

  • May 24th, 2014
  • Posted by EU Australia

EU map - EP ConstituenciesVoting in the European Parliament elections this weekend (22-25.5.14) sees a rather jaded electorate wondering if the effort is fully worthwhile – according to the pre-poll survey of all 28 member countries conducted for the European Union.

FEELING TRUSTFUL?

Europeans have more than their share of a distrust being felt in various parts of the world for governments and political parties, if the findings of the poll, Special Barometer 415, are wholly accurate.

Taken in March, it first of all established that the 388-million people entitled to vote do feel mostly satisfied with the life that they lead: 21% very satisfied, 56% just satisfied, and the rest displeased.

Beyond that it is not a happy electorate passing judgment on candidates for the 751 seats; and also for the highly important executive position of President of the European Commission, for the first time going to a popular vote.

Do they trust the European Union? 59% say no, 32% yes, 9% don’t know if they trust it or not.

But that is warm support seen against levels of trust for national parliaments, just 27%; for national governments 26%, and for political parties 17% – with 79% declaring themselves distrustful of the parties.

WHAT COUNTS

EP alternativenews.orgThe information on voter concerns about issues, makes it plain that the European voters have their feet firmly planted on the ground, expressing most concern about the persistent hard realities of a post-crisis economy.

When asked about the biggest problems facing their country, with each respondent able to nominate two issues, they produced a Europe-wide average putting Unemployment at 49%, the Economic Situation at 29%, Inflation  21%, and such matters as National Debt, Immigration, Health and Social Security, Crime and Tax all significant, but second-level at 11 to 13% each.

Scores for household or personal concerns gave greater weight to health and social security and paying for education.

The hardest hit economies were smaller ones especially Greece, centre of the recent years of crisis, registering high levels of dissatisfaction over jobs, the state of the economy and the political parties; and also Hungary, with similar strong discontent, and also widespread concern there about  crime.

RUMBLINGS ON THE FRINGES

Other polling ahead of the European Parliament vote has suggested that with such scepticism about politics, and weak sense of efficacy in the electorate, the voter turn-out may be less than the 43% recorded at the last elections five years ago.

That might help the pungent, maybe potent campaigns of the small parties to the more extreme right and left, wanting seats in the European Parliament, to vote for the dismemberment of the European Union.

It might also give a leg-up to the rightist parties angry over immigration, and working it as their lead issue . Public resentment over immigration has gone well over 20% in the Eurostat poll in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium and Germany, judged as an EU issue — sentiment expected to translate into votes in the first two of those countries at least.

GRUMBLINGS IN THE EURO-DIASPORA

italy-map-flag australia-flag-map Europeans who find themselves outside of the EU at this time are not all getting a vote.

Australian SBS Television found that under the electoral rules, which give significant leeway to national decisions on such matters, there is no postal or absent voting for citizens of Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

It heard complaints from within the large Italian community in Australia, which is accustomed to sending deputies to the national parliament in Rome, and from others such as Swedish citizens who missed a deadline for getting in their votes well ahead of the main poll at home.

Members of the European parliament (MEPs) are elected by proportional representation, either under a list system or in multi-member constituencies, depending on the national system being used. They can get in with a minimum 5% of first-preference votes.

Reference    

Luke Baker, Far right suffers Dutch surprise as EU vote begins, Reuters, London, 22.5.14. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/22/us-eu-election-netherlands-idUSBREA4L11V20140522, (24.5.14).

Eurostat, European Union, Brussels, Special Barometer 415: Wave EB 81.2 – TNS opinion & social, March 2014.http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_415_data_en.pdf, (24.3.14).

Andrew Osborn, Despite flak, polls show UKIP on track to top Europe vote, Reuters, London, 21.5.14. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/uk-eu-election-britain-idUKKBN0E11NO20140521 ,(24.5.14).

Brianna Roberts, European vote leaves many eligible Aussies unheard, SBS, Sydney, 22.3.14. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/05/22/european-vote-leaves-many-eligible-aussies-unheard, (24.5.14).

Pictures  

EP electoral map includes overseas territories, mainly France, wikipedia.

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