Wednesday 27 May 2009

European Parliament elections 2009 (113): The turnout panic ends - and nothing has changed

Sorry, but anyone putting any particular weight into the latest public opinion survey results showing that 49% of EU citizens plan to vote (instead of 34% in April) in the upcoming elections is not taking her/his job seriously.

When the last Eurobarometer results were published, announcing record low turnout intentions, and everyone (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here) was writing like hell about it, I made a remark, saying that the survey was conducted at a time where the campaign activities were so low, that the results necessarily had to be low, too.

Since then, this initial panic around the alleged record low turnout has remained the most important issue in many media and blog reports.

It has been this dominant, that I would recommend that, next time, the political parties should have a political position on turnout, so that they'll have at least something to campaign on with media attention.

Now, one week before the elections, with most member states being in the full campaign (although "full" sounds rather sarcastic in this context), with most initiatives having reached out to parts of the public, with most media having at least some basic coverage of EU- and EP-related issues in the context of the European Parliament elections, it is no surprise that the figures are "better" than they were in April (which covered a period in late January/early February).

If we reach 49% turnout Europe-wide, this would still be very low. But it sounds realistic. But now all the media and blogs finally have something to report on, again. First, they create a panic and now they can express relief. Isn't that beautiful?

More important is the question: Did it change anything? My answer: No!

Maybe some people were more motivated to motivate others, maybe some have become aware of the upcoming elections just by this kind of panic.

But the campaign has not been better thanks to this media herd instinct. Instead of making a better campaign, the parties have kept it low key. Instead of pushing the parties into better campaigns, the media have kept it low key.

So, now we have spent a lot of valuable time on discussing a hypothetical turnout - which still can be record low and which still can be average - instead of discussing actual campaigns.

Bravo, that was really helpful!

Under the category "European parliament elections 2009" I am following up national and European activities on the path to the European Parliament elections 2009.

For an overview over all articles in this category have a look at the overview article.

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