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Voter turnout rises for first time ever in EU elections, breaking 50%

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People cast their votes at a ballot station
People cast their votes at a ballot station   -   Copyright  REUTERS
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More than half of eligible voters cast their ballots in the European elections this month - the first time turnout has risen since the formation of the European Union.

Since 1979 turnout has been steadily dropping, going from almost 62% in that year, down to a historic low of 42.6% in 2014.

At 50.5%, the projected turnout is the highest for 20 years.

EU elections 2019: Country-by-country guide

The conservative and socialist political blocs that have traditionally dominated in the European Parliament - while still on course to claim the most seats - suffered losses nonetheless.

This paved the way for a surge for the liberal and green European parties.

Senior EU figures welcomed the rise in voter turnout, hailing it as a boost to EU legitimacy.Germany's Green party doubled its share of the Sunday vote, leaping into second place behind Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and above the centre-left Social Democrats. France's green party also saw a surge in support, as did Ireland's.

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