The European election in Germany mobilises the EU’s biggest electorate returning the biggest number of MEPs to the European parliament, and as such is a crucial battleground.
The results may also indicate the trends that will shape the September general election there. By midday, only a trickle of voters had made it to the polling stations, showing little sign that the electorate was heeding the unusual cross-party appeal for them to shrug off their euro-vote apathy. The major parties in the governing grand coalition of right and left look likely to scoop the lion’s share of votes. But commentators have noted that politicians from the major parties have been slow to campaign, and over the past five years have been happy to blame EU policies when things are bad, and present popular EU measures as their own. In these circumstances, said one, how could they expect voters to demonstrate European enthusiasm when it has been so lacking in their ranks? Smaller parties like the Free Democrats and the Greens could lose out in a 32 party scrum, and the turnout will be keenly watched. Five years ago it barely exceeded 40 percent and didn’t even reach that figure in the capital Berlin, while only 30 percent of 20- to 25-year olds turnout out to vote.