(ANSA) - ROME, JUN 8 - The countdown to the 2024 European Parliament elections has begun. On Tuesday, the European Parliament published and presented the results of its Spring 2023 Eurobarometer survey.
The figures contained in the Spring Eurobarometer, published on Tuesday exactly one year ahead of the 2024 EU elections, show increased levels of interest in and awareness of these elections, as well as of the impact of the European Union on everyday life. The next EU elections are to be held on June 6-9, 2024, when the current five-year term ends.
The higher interest is probably linked to the increased visibility of the EU in recent years due to multiple crises including the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia's war on Ukraine, European Parliament spokesman and Director General for Communication Jaume Duch Guillot said.
The president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, stressed the importance of the EU elections when she announced the results of the Eurobarometer via video message at a press conference in Brussels organised by the European Newsroom (enr).
She said that taking part in the elections was a chance to stand up for all the issues important to EU citizens. She called on "everyone, especially young people, to vote and in doing so shape the Union they want to live in".
According to Jaume Duch Guillot, young Europeans must realise that the 2024 EU elections will influence the EU for the next decade and will have a key impact on their lives.
Are voters ready to vote? Sixty-seven percent of Europeans said they would be likely to vote in European Parliament elections if they were held next week. Ahead of the previous polls in 2019, 58 percent said they were interested in voting and the actual turnout ended up at around 51 percent. The willingness to vote varies across Europe: In Belgium, where compulsory voting applies, 73 percent of respondents said that they would vote. A total of 58 percent of Slovenian voters said they would likely cast a vote in the European elections if they were held this week, nine percentage points below the EU average. Slightly more than half of Croatia's voters (53 percent) said they would likely go to the polls if the European elections were held next week. Only the Czech Republic recorded a lower score than Croatia with 50 percent of its citizens saying they would be likely to vote if the elections were held next week.
According to the survey, 64 percent of Italians said they would be likely to vote if the European elections were held any day, a figure slightly lower than the EU average. Italy is among the countries where interest in European politics has grown the most since the Ukraine war and the pandemic, rising from 47 percent in 2018 to 58 percent today, higher than the EU average of 56 percent.
Asked what motivated them to go out and vote in European elections, most respondents cited a "civic duty" to cast their ballot, the habit of voting in elections and the desire to support a political party. These three factors came above "wanting to change things", supporting a specific candidate or expressing support for the EU.
In contrast, reasons that keep turnout in European elections lower than in other elections at national level include the belief that a vote will not change anything, a lack of interest in politics in general and distrust of politics, as well as a belief that what happens in the European Parliament "does not concern them." The majority of Bulgarians (57 percent), for example, are uninterested in the European elections that will take place in June 2024.
Slovakia has always had the lowest voter turnout in previous European Parliament elections. Even though the Slovaks' interest in European Parliament elections has risen since the last vote- with the survey showing that 26 percent of Slovaks are interested in voting in the 2024 elections - the figure still puts Slovakia in last place again in terms of voter turnout.
Asked what Slovaks need to do to reverse this unfavourable trend, Duch Guillot said that a "domestic solution" is mainly in the hands of politicians, the government, the parliament and the media. "People still trust the media, or some part of the media, the most. They should learn the lessons of the last four to five years, when the EU's actions in various crises have had a clear impact on people's daily lives," he said.