Mann von hinten fotografiert mit Europaflagge in der Hosentasche.

Why Socially Divided Voter Turnout Hurts the EU

For the 2014 European Parliament elections, the top half of society also had a much greater influence than the bottom half on the election results. Something similar had already happened with the 2013 elections for Germany's federal parliament, the Bundestag. The current issue of EINWURF analyzes the voter turnout.


The more precarious the social living conditions, the lower the voter turnout. As a result, growing regional and social differences lead to political inequality. This is consistent with the findings of the voter turnout analysis for the 2013 Bundestag national election (EINWURF 3/2013). 

The fact that there was even lower voter turnout for the 2014 European Parliament election means that the results of the EU election were even less socially representative than those of the Bundestag election. On May 25, the gap in voter turnout between affluent neighborhoods in large German cities and neighborhoods with a precarious socioeconomic profile amounted up to 33 percentage points. The disparity between many voters from better-off living conditions and only a few voters from economically disadvantaged conditions was dramatic for the European Parliament election: For every one eligible voter from a non-voter stronghold who voted, there were two eligible voters from a neighborhood with high voter turnout who casted their votes.

In addition to the general socioeconomic divide seen in all recent elections, when it comes to the EU elections, the pronounced detachment of the middle and lower thirds of society to European politics comes into effect – indeed, it's only members of the upper strata who take an above-average interest in politics at the EU level. Thus, for a range of different reasons, participation in EU elections is very unequal. What's more, this year's rise in voter turnout in Germany did not change anything about that, as it can predominantly be attributed to the fact that the vote was held together with municipal and state elections. A positive trend reversal could not be identified. The same holds true for the EU elections and all other elections: The focus of all efforts to motivate more people to participate in elections again should be on the awareness of the social dimension of non-voting.

You can find the complete analysis in EINWURF 1/2014 here: