Foreign Affairs
The European Parliament and the citizens’ vote

Since 1979, the first time European citizens could vote for Members of the European Parliament, the figure has dropped from 62% in that year to 42.6% in 2014. With an average turnout of about 50.5% in the European Union, these elections for the European Parliament have been the highest for the past 25 years.

It is to be noted, however, that not all citizens of all member states turned out in large numbers to vote. Whilst 72.70% voted in Malta, the highest rate of votes was registered in Belgium, with about 89%. Residents of Slovenia registered the lowest turnout, at 28,29%.

The overall increase registered durig these elections naturally means participation has increased considerably,but one has to see what this result actually means within the European political ambit.

The European Union has been undergoing an examination of conscience for these past years, during which it has faced challenges of a global and economic nature as well as challenges concerning its identity and set-up. These challenges also carry internal connotations,with citizens often feeling the Union does not tie in with their realities.

A first glance at the results of these elections shows citizens are prepared to make their voices heard within the European context. Despite the fact that national issues still affect to some extent the results of European elections, one cannot but reflect on the fact that many Eurosceptic parties garnered a considerable number of votes, which meant a loss to political groups in favour of the EU.

One has also to see how the formation of the European Parliament will develop, with the teaming up of political groups and coalitions which will be formed. Without a doubt these developments will affect decisions to be taken in this institution in the coming years.

For this reason the European Union should continue to push its intention to actually listen to its citizens in order to truly focus on challenges which affect their lives. At the same time it has to continue to find simple methods of communicating its benefits, to ensure these truly reach every European citizen.

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