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Commentary on low EP election turnout in the Czech Republic

Our analysis shows that the main cause of extremely low election turnout in the Czech Republic is the lack of knowledge about the EU in general and especially about the role and work of the European Parliament. In a poll by Median, only one in three Czechs can name a single MEP and 86 percent of Czechs state that they don’t know what the EP and MEPs do. (43 percent Slovaks can name two MEPs, only 12 percent Czechs can do so) People do not cast their votes for institution from which they don’t know anybody and have no idea what it is good for.

 In last ten years, Czech political parties have undoubtedly failed to explain to its citizen what the EP as a legislative institution exists for. Now, they are only harvesting fruits of their ignorance of EU topics. European integration process faces a serious problem in lack of trust and interest of citizen in it, but Czech politicians are to blame for extreme lack of knowledge about the EU among Czech citizen.”

“From the European point of view, five major political europarties have put forward a candidate for the president of the European Commission. This move was supposed to show 400 million EU voters that they can choose a person who would lead the European executive. Nevertheless, most of the national parties have not put the europarty candidate in the middle of their national campaign.

 In 2009, the turnout was 43 percent. We don’t know exact numbers yet, but is looks like that this attempt has failed to attract significant number of voters. In other words, there is a lack of real debate on EU topics in member states since national parties do not prioritize EU agenda in their rhetoric and programs and europarties are weak and unable to reach voters with topics which are being dealt in the EP.”

Jakub Janda

Deputy Director, European Values Think-tank