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The European Parliament Elections:
What Is at Stake?

Böll Lunch Lecture in Brussels with Sarah Seeger

08.05.2009 · C·A·P

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Between 4 and 7 June 2009, 375 million EU citizens can vote for a new European Parliament.  The expectations are that the interest of voters will be minimal: according to the recent Eurobarometer, about half of the potential voters is not interested. The European Union seems to be farther removed from its citizens than ever. Apart from low participation, the greatest danger for the vulnerable EU democracy is the likelihood that more right-wing, populist and eurosceptic parties will enter the European Parliament involving the risk that its functioning will be seriously hampered. What is really at stake at the EP elections in June 2009 and what can be done to save the EU's credibility?

This question was discussed by Sara Hagemann, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels, Pierre Jonckheer, Member of European Parliament, Lisbeth Kirk, Editor in Chief and Founder of EU Observer and Sarah Seeger, Research Fellow at the Center for Applied Policy Research (C·A·P), at the Böll Lunch Lecture organised by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Brussels.

In her presentation, Sarah Seeger pointed out that the election campaigns of the different parties are still mainly focused on national issues, even if coordination between parties in different member states becomes more intense compared to previous campaigns.

However, national parties still have no major incentives to Europeanise their campaigns and to turn the EP elections form "second-order elections" to "first-order elections". Therefore, it is likely that turnout in the upcoming elections will remain as low as in 2004 when only 45,6 % of the Europeans went to the ballot boxes.

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