University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

Elections to the European parliament, June 2004: the 15 established member states

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalElectoral Studies
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005


Among the 15 established member states of the European Union (EU-15), the 2004 elections to the European Parliament (EP) reveal four big stories. First, turnout was the lowest since the first direct EP elections in 1979, which is bound to give rise to continuing questions about the EU's legitimacy. Second, the elections highlighted a strong anti-government vote in most states — with the exceptions of Greece, Luxembourg, and Spain. Third, the vote share of parties critical of the EU rose dramatically; euroscepticism is no longer the preserve of xenophobes and extremists, but now includes significant sections of traditional parties, new parties on the left and the right, and a number of independent campaigners against corruption and advocates of greater transparency. Fourth, whilst recent shifts in national electoral politics have been primarily — although not exclusively — to the left and centre, the configuration of the new EP is primarily to the centre-right. Moreover, despite the rise of euroscepticism, the four main EP groups are all committed to European integration, whereas the European electorate seems less enthusiastic. The key to the future of a newly enlarged European Union lies in how these differences between national and European politics are reconciled

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