INTRODUCTION I. Participation in the 2014 European elections... 3

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1 ?? Directorate-General for Communication PUBLIC OPINION MONITORING UNIT 2014 EUROPEAN ELECTIONS DESK RESEARCH Brussels, April 2015 Profile of voters and abstainees in the European elections 2014 INTRODUCTION... 2 I. Participation in the 2014 European elections Participation at a European level Participation in the 2014 European elections by Member State National developments in participation in the European elections II. Profiles of voters and abstainees in the 2014 European elections Socio-demographic profile of voters and abstainees Profile of voters The time of the decision to vote for the chosen political party or candidate Reasons for voting Electoral issues Attitudes and opinions regarding the EU Profile of abstainees Reasons for abstaining Attitudes and opinions regarding the European Union Habits when following the news Jacques Nancy 1

2 INTRODUCTION The rate of participation in the European elections held from 22 to 25 May 2014 was 42.61%. A few months have gone by since the elections were held and the time has come to examine the reasons for abstention and participation. Desk research to analyse the electoral behaviour of voters and abstainees in the last European elections of May 2014 was carried out. This was based on the post-election survey 1 of 27,331 Europeans over the age of 18 (16 in Austria). The survey by TNS Opinion was carried out a few days after the vote, between 30 May and 27 June An identical survey was carried out following the 2009 elections. The aim of this analysis is to identify the various profiles of abstainees and voters, and to understand the reasons underlying their decision to vote or abstain, and to analyse their attitudes and opinions regarding the EU. Voter and abstainee profiles were drawn up based on the time of their decision to vote or to abstain. Three voter and abstainee groups were established: those who decided at the last minute, those who had decided a long time before and those who always vote the same way or never vote. This research work, commissioned by the European Parliament Directorate General for Communication ( Public Opinion Monitoring unit), also includes two country factsheets (on voters and abstainees). 1 2

3 I. Participation in the 2014 European elections 1. Participation at a European level Participation in the 2014 European elections appears to have remained almost completely stable in relation to 2009, although some notable differences may be found at the Member-State level. Participation in the European elections of 22 to 25 May

4 2. Participation in the 2014 European elections by Member State Participation rates vary widely between the Member States percentage points separate Belgium (89.64% participation rate, with mandatory voting) from Slovakia (13.05%). The participation rate exceeds 70% in Belgium and Luxembourg (with mandatory voting), as well as Malta. The participation rate is over 50% in Greece (where voting is also mandatory), Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden. 4

5 The participation rate is between 33% and 50% in Germany, Lithuania, Austria, Cyprus, Spain, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Estonia, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom and Portugal. Finally, participation is below 33% in Romania, Latvia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. 5

6 6

7 3. National developments in participation in the European elections Member States Participation in the European elections Diff ( ) DE 65.73% 56.76% 62.28% 60.02% 45.19% 43% 43.27% 48.10% FR 60.71% 56.72% 48.80% 52.71% 46.76% 42.76% 40.63% 42.43% +1.8 BE 91.36% 92.09% 90.73% 90.66% 91.05% 90.81% 90.39% 89.64% IT 85.65% 82.47% 81.07% 73.60% 69.76% 71.72% 65.05% 57.22% LU 88.91% 88.79% 87.39% 88.55% 87.27% 91.35% 90.76% 85.55% NL 58.12% 50.88% 47.48% 35.69% 30.02% 39.26% 36.75% 37.32% UK 32.35% 32.57% 36.37% 36.43% 24% 38.52% 34.70% 35.60% IE 63.61% 47.56% 68.28% 43.98% 50.21% 58.58% 58.64% 52.44% DK 47.82% 52.38% 46.17% 52.92% 50.46% 47.89% 59.54% 56.32% EL 80.59% 80.03% 73.18% 70.25% 63.22% 52.61% 59.97% ES 54.71% 59.14% 63.05% 45.14% 44.87% 43.81% PT 51.10% 35.54% 39.93% 38.60% 36.77% 33.67% SE 38.84% 37.85% 45.53% 51.07% AT 49.40% 42.43% 45.97% 45.39% FI 30.14% 39.43% 38.60% 39.10% CZ 28.30% 28.22% 18.20% EE 26.83% 43.90% 36.52% CY 72.50% 59.40% 43.97% LV 41.34% 53.70% 30.24% LT 48.38% 20.98% 47.35% HU 38.50% 36.31% 28.97% MT 82.39% 78.79% 74.80% PL 20.87% 24.53% 23.83% SI 28.35% 28.37% 24.55% SK 16.97% 19.64% 13.05% RO 27.67% 32.44% BG 38.99% 35.84% HR % 25.24% Total EU For Croatia, a comparison was made between the first time the population voted in the European elections in 2013 and the 2014 European elections. The gap in participation between the Member States has increased slightly since the previous elections in

8 Increase in participation (1 point and over) Stable participation (evolution between 1 and -1) Decrease in participation between 1 and 6 points Decrease in participation greater than -6 points in 7 MS in 6 MS in 7 MS in 8 MS Lithuania United Kingdom Luxembourg Latvia Greece Netherlands Malta Cyprus Sweden Finland Slovenia Czech Republic Germany Austria Denmark Italy Romania Poland Bulgaria Estonia Croatia Belgium Portugal Hungary France Spain Slovakia Ireland In the first group of countries, participation has increased by more than one percentage point since the 2009 elections. Along with Lithuania, where there was a spectacular increase (+26.37), Greece, Germany and France feature in this group; three countries where a number of the Spitzenkandidaten were elected: Alexis Tsipras (Greece), Martin Schulz and Ska Keller (Germany) and José Bové (France). Participation within the EU has fallen most markedly in Latvia and Cyprus. 8

9 II. Profiles of voters and abstainees in the 2014 European elections 1. Socio-demographic profile of voters and abstainees. The table should be read vertically. For example, the total of 42.61% of the voters is made up of 51% men and 49% women, and so on in the other socio-demographic categories. Basis: Voters (42.61%) Abstainees (57.39%) 9

10 2. Profile of voters 2.1 The time of the decision to vote for the chosen political party or candidate a) Overall results A little less than half of voters (45%) have always voted the same way (-5 points in relation to 2009). The proportion of voters who chose their candidate a few months or a few weeks before (37%, +3) or in the last day or days (17%, +2) has risen compared with

11 b) National results There has been a spectacular drop in the proportion of those who always vote the same way in Greece (-30 points between 2009 and 2014, at 33%), and to a lesser extent in Cyprus (-14, 62%), Italy (-14, 44%), the Czech Republic (-13, 37%), Slovenia (-11, 43%), Belgium (-9, 43%) and Slovakia (-9, 41%). In the countries where the proportion of those who always voted the same way has fallen markedly, there is an increase in the proportion of voters who decided long before the elections who they would vote for. The most significant increases have been seen in Greece (+24, 48%), the Czech Republic (+12, 40%), Italy (+12, 47%) and Cyprus (+11, 24%). Conversely, in Latvia, the proportion of those who have always voted the same way has risen significantly (+20, 37%), whereas the proportion of those who decided at the last minute (-12, 20%), or long before (-9, 42%) has fallen significantly. 11

12 c) Socio-demographic profile of the three groups of voters *Voters (42.61%) Decided at the last minute (17% of voters); decided long before (37% of voters); always vote the same way (45% of voters) Women constitute a majority of the group of voters that decided at the last minute (51%), and are in a minority in the two other groups. The group of voters that decided at the last minute is made up of a higher number of under 40s compared with the other groups (12% of voters aged 18-24; 27% of voters aged 25-39). The oldest voters constitute a majority of those who always vote the same way (55% of voters over 55). There are more managers and manual workers in the group compared with those who decided at the last minute (18% and 21%, respectively). A higher proportion of retired people always vote the same way (38%). 12

13 2.2 Reasons for voting a) National results Max 3 answers In a broad majority of Member States (26 out of 28), the main reasons for voting are civic reasons. Only Germany and Luxembourg cited reasons related to the European Union in first place (62% and 54%, respectively). 13

14 In all Member States, civic reasons for voting were mentioned by more than half of voters. The proportion of voters citing civic reasons for voting is the highest in Lithuania (84%), Ireland (80%) and Denmark (80%). Conversely, civic reasons are less frequently cited in Belgium (51%) and Luxembourg (51%), where voting is mandatory. In 21 Member States, reasons linked to the European Union are more often cited than national reasons. In Italy (41%), Latvia (27%) and Poland (38%), a similar proportion of respondents cited European and national reasons. In Cyprus (41% versus 36%), Spain (44% versus 41%), Bulgaria (46% versus 39%) and the Czech Republic (38% versus 36%), respondents cited national reasons more often than European reasons. 14

15 b) Reasons for voting for three categories of voters Those who decided long before are most likely to mention European reasons (54%), in particular, the feeling that they can change things by voting in the European elections (16%). This group is also the most likely to cite national reasons (37%). More than two-thirds of those who always vote the same way refer to civic reasons (71%). Only 25% of those who decided at the last minute give national reasons. However, national reasons are cited by 44% of those who always vote the same way (the only group of voters to cite national reasons more often than European reasons). Participation is high among those who always vote the same way and who invoke support for a political party as a reason for voting (30%, third reason for this group). 15

16 QP4a. What are the main reasons why you decided to vote in the recent European elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 16

17 c) Reasons for voting in relation to the age of voters Civic reasons are more commonly cited as the age of voters increases (55% among the youngest voters, 61% among voters aged 25-39, 62% among voters aged and 68% among voters aged 55+). The widest gaps are for the you always vote item, cited by 26% of under-25s, and 46% of over-55s. Conversely, a slightly higher proportion of the younger group explain their vote with reference to European reasons: 52% of under-25s, 46% of over-55s. Fewer of the youngest respondents now cite national reasons. 17

18 QP4a. What are the main reasons why you decided to vote in the recent European elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 18

19 d) Reasons for voting in relation to voters socio-professional category The reasons for voting vary widely based on the respondents socio-professional category. There are clearly more Managers who cited European reasons (63%); by way of comparison, only 37% of house persons, 43% of retired people and 44% of manual workers cited such reasons. National reasons are more often cited by self-employed persons (44%), unemployed persons and other white collar workers (41% each). Among unemployed persons, the protest vote against the government is particularly marked (17%). 19

20 QP4a. What are the main reasons why you decided to vote in the recent European elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 20

21 2.3 Electoral issues a) Electoral issues for the three categories of voters QP5T What are the issues which make you vote in the recent European elections? (Multiple answers possible) Overall, there are only small differences on electoral issues. Economic issues, unemployment and economic growth came up first in the three groups of voters. However, they are cited more often among those who decided on their vote long before (46% and 41%, respectively) or who always vote the same way (46%, 41%). Immigration comes third among those who had decided on their vote long before (27%). Those who decided at the last minute, place the role of the EU on the international stage in third position (22%). Finally, among those who always vote the same way, the future of pensions features among the three main issues (24%). 21

22 2.4 Attitudes and opinions regarding the EU a) Attitudes and opinions for the three categories of voters QP6. For each of the following statements, please tell me to what extent it corresponds or not to your attitude or opinion. % Total yes b) EU membership for the three categories of voters QP7 Generally speaking, do you think that (OUR COUNTRY)'s membership of the EU is...? Compared with the other groups of voters, slightly fewer of those who decided at the last minute, state that they had all the necessary information with which to choose who to vote for (65%), that they are very interested in politics (57%) and that they trust the European institutions (48%). Those who decided a long time in advance is the group that feels the least that they are citizens of the EU (67%), or attached to Europe (69%), but also the least to take the view that their country's membership of the EU is a good thing (59%) Those who always vote the same way, are also the most likely to state that they feel attached to Europe (75%), are very interested in politics (66%), and that they trust the European institutions (60%). A higher number of respondents of this group also takes the view that their country's membership of the EU is a good thing (68%). 22

23 2.5 Following the news a) Habits for following the news for the three categories of voters QP9 How often do you follow the news...? In the three groups of voters, over 80% of respondents watch the news on television several times a week or more. Those who decided at the last minute are the most likely group to follow the news several times a week or more on the Internet (49%), although they are less likely than other groups to read newspapers (41%). The opposite is true for those who always vote the same way: 37% follow the news on the Internet a number of times per week, whereas 55% read the newspapers. Those who decided long before have a slight preference for newspapers (48%) over the Internet (46%). 23

24 3. Profile of abstainees a) Time of the decision to abstain from voting Almost one quarter of abstainees say that they never vote (24%). This is a progression of two points since However, the proportion of respondents who decided long before has fallen by two points (31%), in favour of an increase in the number of abstainees who decided at the last minute (34%, + 2). 24

25 b) National results The proportion of those who declared that they never vote has increased significantly in Ireland (+14 to 37%), Lithuania (+12 to 28%), France (+12 to 24%), Cyprus (+11 to 22%) and Romania (+10 to 16%). However, it has fallen significantly in Belgium (-15 to 35%). The proportion of those who decided at the last minute not to vote has increased significantly in Denmark (+15% to 57%), the Netherlands (+12 to 56%) and Hungary (+12 to 39%). However, it has fallen markedly in Cyprus (-15 to 19%) and Slovakia (-10 to 36%). Finally, the proportion of abstainees who decided long before not to vote has increased significantly in Slovenia (+12 to 41%), Belgium (+11 to 41%) and Spain (+11 to 41%). Conversely, it has fallen significantly in Hungary (-16 to 30%), Germany (-12 to 28%), Denmark (-11 to 18%), Malta (-11 to 39%), Greece (-10 to 49%) and Lithuania (-10 to 25%). 25

26 c) Demographic profile of the three groups of abstainees *Abstainees (57.39%) Those who decided at the last minute (34% of abstainees); those who decided long before (31% of abstainees); those who never vote (24% of abstainees) The proportion of older persons is higher among the abstainees who took their decision long before (39% of the 55+ group), whereas the under-40 group had the highest proportion who never vote, or decided not to vote at the last minute. Almost two-thirds of those who decided at the last minute, use the Internet every day (64%), compared with 51% of those who had decided long before. 26

27 3.1 Reasons for abstaining a) National results In 19 Member States, the main reasons are political, particularly in Cyprus (73%) and Bulgaria (69%). However, in seven Member States, personal and technical reasons are dominant: Denmark (58%), Ireland (54%), Belgium (51%), France (48%), Netherlands (47%), Estonia (47%), Luxembourg (45%) and the United Kingdom (39%). 27

28 In Lithuania, a similar proportion of abstainees cite personal and technical reasons, and political reasons (47% each). Reasons linked to the European Union generally come in third place among the reasons cited in all Member States except in Sweden (41%), the Czech Republic (35%) and Spain (28%) where they are cited more often than personal and technical reasons. b) Reasons for abstaining by categories of abstainees The reasons for abstaining vary significantly between the various groups of abstainees identified. Those who decided long before (59%) and those who never vote (74%) put forward political reasons above all. Among these reasons, a lack of trust or dissatisfaction with regard to politics is the reason most cited by those who decided long before (34%). Those who never vote were most likely to say that they are not interested in politics (34%). These two groups mention reasons directly linked to the EU more often than the overall abstainee groups: 34% of those who decided long before not to vote (including 13% who answered that they were not satisfied with the European Parliament as an institution) and 28% of those who never vote. Those who decided at the last minute not to vote did so mainly for technical, logistical or personal reasons. Lack of time was the most the most decisive reason (23%). A lack of information is only invoked by a small number of respondents in the three groups: 5% of those who decided at the last minute, 5% of those who decided long before, and 3% of those who never vote. 28

29 QP4b. What are the main reasons why you did NOT vote in the recent European Parliament elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 29

30 c) Reasons for abstaining in relation to the age of abstainees Political reasons are the reasons most often invoked by all age groups, ahead of technical or personal reasons. A detailed analysis of certain differences shows that slightly more under-40s stated that they are not interested in politics (21% of the under 25s, 22% of the group). However, the youngest group expresses the least lack of trust in politics in general (15%). The oldest group are the most likely to mention reasons directly linked to the EU (29%). 30

31 QP4b. What are the main reasons why you did NOT vote in the recent European Parliament elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 31

32 d) Reasons for abstaining in relation to abstainees socio-professional category The variations in relation to socio-professional categories are more significant. Thus, managers (46%) and students (46%) give technical and personal reasons first, whereas in the other categories, political reasons come out on top, in particular, unemployed persons (60%) and house persons (55%) and manual workers (52%). In greater detail, 30% of self-employed workers and unemployed persons say that they did not vote due to a lack of trust in politics in general. Unemployed persons was the group most likely to state that they are not interested in politics (26%), and to think that voting has no consequences (18%). It should also be noted that issues related to information are very rarely cited, across all socio-professional categories (less than 10%). 32

33 QP4b. What are the main reasons why you did NOT vote in the recent European Parliament elections? (MAX. 3 ANSWERS) 33

34 3.2 Attitudes and opinions regarding the European Union a) Attitudes and opinions of the three categories of abstainees QP6. For each of the following statements, please tell me to what extent it corresponds or not to your attitude or opinion. % Total yes Marked differences regarding attitudes to the European Union emerged among the three categories of abstainees. Those who decided at the last minute, have attitudes and opinions that are clearly more favourable towards the European Union than the other categories of abstainees. They are more likely to feel that they are European citizens (+7 points in relation to the average among abstainees), more attached to Europe (+6) and have greater trust in the European institutions (+7). Furthermore, 39% say they are very interested in politics, 8 points more than the overall abstainee group. There are no marked differences regarding attitudes to the EU among those who decided long before and those who never vote. In these two groups, attitudes to the European Union are more negative than among the abstainees overall. A number of major differences exist between these two groups: interest in politics and the level of information as a basis on which to make a choice are lowest among those who never vote. 34

35 b) Membership of the European Union for the three categories of abstainees QP7 Generally speaking, do you think that (OUR COUNTRY)'s membership of the EU is...? Almost half of those who decided at the last minute (49%), think that membership of the EU is a good thing, whereas this is the case for only 39% and 35% of those who decided long before and those who never vote, respectively. 35

36 3.3 Habits when following the news a) Habits when following the news among the three categories of abstainees QP9. How often do you follow the news...? The vast majority of the three groups of abstainees follow the news on television. However, those who never vote (67%) are less likely to do so every day compared with those who decided at the last minute (79%) and those who decided long before (79%). A higher proportion of those who decided at the last minute follow current affairs on the Internet every day compared with the other categories (39%). Reading newspapers daily is lower on average. However, just as many of those who decided long before read the newspapers on a daily basis as those who use the Internet (32% of the two cases). Less than a quarter of those who never vote (24%) follow current affairs in the newspapers. 36

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