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EU seeks to scare and twitter continent’s youth to vote

Brussels — For a dull old European parliament election, every vote counts and if people have to be scared into casting a ballot then so be it.

In a new YouTube video a young blonde woman is seen screaming as she runs down a corridor. Horror movie music plays in the background.

The panicked woman rushes into a voting office, drops her ballot in the box and runs off again chased by a masked gunman. "There is always time to vote," says the message which flashes up at the end.

There may be time, but European leaders are worried at the lack of desire among the estimated 375 million adults to turn out in the EU parliament election on June 4 to 7. The worries are particularly acute over under-25 voters.

At the last European election in 2004, 55 percent of the electorate snubbed the chance to vote. The abstention rate reached 77 percent among 18 to 24 year olds.

The European parliament YouTube campaign has two other videos. One shows a group of poachers voting and the third shows a group of cyclists stop in the middle of a race to cast their ballots.

"The aim is to reach young people who spend a lot of the time on the Internet so that they take notice of the elections," a European parliament spokesman told AFP. "We hope that afterwards, at least some of them will become more interested."

European institutions and candidates for the 736-seat chamber also use clips on MTV, the pop music channel, and messages on Twitter to try to generate interest.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, linked up with MTV Europe in April to launch voting campaign adverts aimed at under 25s.

The "Can You Hear Me Europe" adverts are going all out to make Europe sound cool.

"You can also vote in our online polls, get the skinny on what the elections are all about and check out what some of Europe’s top recording artists have to say about being part of the coolest community – Europe," promises the campaign website (www.canyouhearme.eu).

The European parliament has also launched a Twitter micro-blog service, optimistically hoping to replicate the success that Barack Obama enjoyed when campaigning for the US presidency last year.

Rival parties are also launching their own advertising campaigns in a bid to rejuvenate the European parliament’s crusty far-away image.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the centrist bloc in the EU parliament, has published a series of cartoon books where euro-deputies are depicted as superheroes on daring missions to Asia, ready to risk their lives for democracy. The sales figures have not been published.

Sophie Laubie/AFP/Expatica