Campaigning in Bulgaria has officially begun for the European Parliament elections, coming up in little more than two weeks. The Gallup institute says the voters have more trust in their European representatives than in their national MPs by a factor of seven. But even so, it is predicted that fewer than one in three Bulgarians will vote in the EU poll. They have legislative elections next month. Many are looking on the EU campaign as a test run for those.
Public warnings are going up saying that the buying of votes is a crime. It has been a problem in the past. One of today’s slogans is “Bulgaria Reloaded”. Turnout predictions for eastern European countries go from a Czech high of 46 percent to a low in Poland of 13 percent. That even this level of interest has been aroused in the Czech Republic is said to be thanks to Prague holding the EU presidency for the first half of this year. An analyst attributes the low voting intention figures to ignorance. Piotr Maciej Kaczynski, Centre for European Policy Studies: “It’s not a disaffection with democracy. It is rather lack of information or lack of awareness about this institution, the European Parliament, what is it? I mean, if you take the approval ratings for the European Parliament, they are extremely high, about 80% of people like the work of the European Parliament.” Some say Poland’s voting is based on its communist past — that people are simply enjoying their freedom not to vote. Yet surveys say only 34 percent of Europe’s total electorate will participate in the European elections — western Europe included.