Explaining Low Turnout in European Elections: The Role of Issue Salience and Institutional Perceptions in Elections to the European Parliament

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Series Details Vol.36, No.4, June 2014, p339-356
Publication Date June 2014
ISSN 0703-6337
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Elections to the European Parliament have been unable to capture the public’s interest— turnout remains far lower than most national elections and many who do vote appear more concerned with sending messages of approval to national political parties than electing representatives at the EU level. This paper seeks to explain why the public does not take these elections seriously. A common explanation is that the public simply does not care about EU politics. In addition to this ‘issue-based’ argument, this article considers where a lack of trust in the European Parliament itself may lead many individuals to abstain from EP elections. Using pre and post-election survey data, results suggest that perceptions of the EP indeed have a significant effect on the decision to vote in EP elections.

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