“The2014 European Parliament elections were the first to take place since the entryinto force of the Lisbon Treaty and were fundamentally different from thosewhich preceded them. It was the first time that a direct link was establishedbetween the result of the elections and the designation of the EuropeanCommission President. The President of the European Commission was nominated bythe European political families for the first time, and the candidate who wasable to command a majority in the newly formed European Parliament became Presidentof the European Commission.
The European Council nominated the candidate of theparty with most seats in the European Parliament, who was elected as EuropeanCommission President by the European Parliament. The 2014 elections stemmed thesteady fall in overall turnout since the first direct European elections in1979. These elections have laid the ground for future European elections andestablished a clear bond between the results of the European Parliamentelections and the choice of European Commission President. An important antecedenthas been set for 2019 and beyond, and it has established a European-level forumfor political debate” (EuropeanCommission, 2014). The author is Sara Binzer Hobolt. She is a Danishpolitical scientist, who specialises in European politics and electoralbehaviour.
She holds the Sutherland Chair in European Institutions at theLondon School of Economics and Political Science. Her theoretical andintellectual framework in this article is very much drawn from the political behaviour, EU politics and Europeanintegration (Hobolt). The article is organised into four parts, covering “thepolitical and economic context of the 2014 EP elections and the national debateon the EU in the period leading up to the vote” (Hobolt, 2015). It also speaksabout behavior of voters in the 2014 elections and finally the author tries toexplain the Eurosceptic vote. Thearticle is comprehensive, brief and impressive for its coverage of the Euroscepticismin the 2014 European Parliament Elections. By far the mostremarkable element of this article is the author’s thesis that the victory ofEurosceptic parties was not just a coincidence but there were obvious reasonswhy that change happened.
The author gives two main reasons. The first one isthat the 2014 European Parliament elections happened in the period of the worsteconomic crisis in post-war Europe and many EU countries held the EU responsible for the economic crisisthat left people punished by anti-austerity measures and the high unemployment. And the second reason is that votersface these elections as midterm elections (“second-order elections”) and as aresult, they do not give attention and do not have interest of these elections.Nevertheless, while the article does provide extensive analysis, other reasonscan also be added to the behavior of voters. The problem of immigration andrefugee crisis also played a crucial role. Human rights activists andhumanitarian workers have extensively criticized the way the EU handled therefugee crisis, and this handling has been met with the emergence of far rightanti-immigration parties in multiple states of the EU.
All the EU countries hadoverwhelming majorities expressing their disappointment in how the EU has dealtwith the crisis. Moreover, the lack of clarity can be another crucial reason.For instance, in the trail of the Brexit result, the opinion arose that many inBritain knew very little about the EU and its institutions. RT (2016) websiteshowed that the question ““What is theEU?” was the second most-searched term on Google in theUK after the results came through on Friday morning, suggesting that manypotential voters were apparently unaware of the scope of EU bodies.” What we can learn about this example is that EUcitizens are not well-informed and this means that their vote is not alwaysconscious. Finally, the same website (RT, 2016) claims that“ many people view the EU as a world of bureaucracy,while at the same time people are critical of EU spending on apparentlypointless projects. A report issued by auditors in 2014 slammed the EU forspending millions of euros between 2000 to 2013 on investments in airportinfrastructure that were not needed.
The report found only half of the fundedairports actually needed the money.” All theabove-mentioned represent the idea that there is a Eurocrisis. People tried tofind who is to blame for and started having a negative image of the EU. Moreover, Holmqvist(2014) has some interesting things to say about two basic factors of theelections: a) the compulsory voting and b) the concurrent national elections. Asfar as the first factor is concerned, thedecrease in electoral participation is a concerning trend which affect theinternal and external image of the EU.
According to Malkopoulou (2009, p.1) “amongpossible remedies for apathy, the most immediate would be to penaliseabstention. Such a course of action is naturally controversial, on moral,political and technical grounds. Despite the many problems of enforcement, anumber of scholars, policy-makers and voters worldwide believe that compulsoryvoting is a good thing, supporting that full participation prevents electoralcorruption and promotes political integration.
On the other hand, opponents ofcompulsory voting have identified