Why EU-friendly Poland showed so little voter turnout at the EP elections

von Adam Bodnar

The day after the elections to the European Parliament I have asked my Erasmus law students about the results in their home countries. I thought that these model EU citizens, holders of a specific European identity, should have interesting views on what has happened last weekend. I was surprised that half of them did not know any results whatsoever. They seemed not to be interested in the EP elections. I did not dare to ask how many casted a vote. Maybe I did not want to know the truth. Most probably, living during a Erasmus year in another EU states may create a distance to your local constituency. If you do not participate in daily political life you do not have an incentive to check what is really going on in your home country, especially if your Polish friends do not talk about it almost at all.

In fact the Polish campaign to the European Parliament elections already indicated that the turnout would be low (finally – 23.82%). Except for some incidents it was quite boring. Just to note – there was not even one publicly broadcasted debate between leaders of the parties. Both leading parties thought that it is not in their political interest to risk participation in such debate. The experience shows that such debates, viewed by millions of voters, were usually an important component of elections.

During the campaign politicians did not even try to explain to general population what competences the European Parliament has. There were general slogans like „70% of binding law is created in the European Parliament“, but no real attempt to clarify how such laws affect the daily life of citizens. Instead, political parties concentrated on purely domestic issues or prepared TV commercials which had to be funny, attractive to viewers, but at the same time superficial and not touching upon substance of the EU integration.

An interesting example is the use of the topic of same-sex marriage during the campaign ...

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