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14 – Trends in turnout at national and EP elections

Trends in turnout at national and EP elections

Trends in turnout at national and EP elections

The trend lines for turnout in four different types of election in the period since the first EP direct elections took place in 1979 show that voter turnout has been on a consistently downward path, both within the European Union and in the United States. Indeed, these trends are consistent with a general decline in average turnout at elections in most G20 democracies since 1945 – from around 80% in the immediate post-war period to around 60% today.
The graph above highlights the close relationship between the (downward) paths of turnout in EP elections and (mid-term) US Congressional elections, in both absolute values and trends. The parallel declines in turnout at Member States’ parliamentary elections and at European Parliament elections demonstrate that voters treat EP elections in the same way as their national elections, but with an average turnout at national elections around 15 to 20 percentage points higher. In general, elections in which voters decide who runs the executive branch of government, as well as who controls the legislature, attract a higher turnout than other elections.

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