Poor turnout for EU parliamentary vote
14 June 2004, BRUSSELS - Apathy and indifference appeared to be the big winners Sunday as less than 45 percent of European Union's 350 million voters cast their ballot in elections to the European Parliament held 10 to 13 June.
14 June 2004
BRUSSELS - Apathy and indifference appeared to be the big winners Sunday as less than 45 percent of European Union's 350 million voters cast their ballot in elections to the European Parliament held 10 to 13 June.
Preliminary estimates of voter turnout released by the EU assembly and Gallup Europe said 44.6 percent of Europeans across the 25 nation EU had voted, down from 49.8 percent in 1999 and the high 63 percent turnout in 1979.
The figures were the lowest ever recorded by the EU assembly and less than the projected 49 percent turnout.
The preliminary results showed relatively more interest in EU affairs in the 15 "old" EU states where voter turnout was estimated at 47.7 percent.
Certain to cause dismay among politicians is the surprising indifference shown by voters in the 10 "new" EU countries where turnout was a dismal 28.7 percent.
The ten countries joined the EU six weeks ago in what was hailed as a historic coming-together of west and east Europe.
Parliamentary estimates showed a particularly low turnout in new EU member state Poland where only 15.4 percent of voters cast their ballot.
Other newcomers Slovenia and Slovakia also had turnout figures around only 20 percent.
In contrast, 82.37 percent of Maltese turned out to vote.
The Parliament put voter participation at 43.5 percent and 42.1 percent in Germany and France respectively.
But ruling parties received a thrashing in both countries, as voters protested against government policies.
Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union emerged as the clear winner in the polls while the Social Democrats slumped badly, according to initial computer projections based on exit polls.
Meanwhile, French voters handed French President Jacques Chirac his second stinging defeat in three months as his Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) ran a weak second behind the opposition Socialists.
The setback came after the debacle suffered by Chirac and his prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, in the March regional elections, in which the Socialists won nearly all of France’s 26 mainland and overseas political regions.
Spanish socialists maintained their winning streak following the March national elections, grabbing 43.4 percent of the vote for the European Parliament elections, ahead of 39.9 percent scored by the opposition conservatives, according to preliminary estimates.
Subject: German news