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24 Jul 2009

Lost Voters: Participation in EU elections and the case for compulsory voting

Anthoula Malkopoulou

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Since the mid-1990s, a declining trend of electoral participation in Western countries has triggered numerous discussions about civic education, awareness-raising and new voting techniques. Some have argued that turnout fluctuations are valuable per se, as they indicate the changing degrees of voter satisfaction or criticism against the government. However, in the case of the EU, low voter turnout undermines the representativity of the European Parliament and its symbolic importance vis-à-vis the EU citizens and the two other major EU institutions, argues Anthoula Malkopoulou in this CEPS Working Document, as it damages the image of the Union abroad, especially since democracy and political rights are the cornerstone of its foreign policy and development aid programmes.