Cyprus was not immune to abstention fever as the turnout for yesterday’s European elections was strikingly low throughout the continent.
Polling stations in the EU opened yesterday but the majority of citizens appeared tentative or, in most circles, uninterested to vote. Speaking after a meeting with high-ranking government officials from Slovakia in Limassol, President Nicos Anastasiades confirmed the problem was widespread and involved Cyprus.
“This isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to Cyprus,” he told reporters. “I was recently informed by both the Slovakian Foreign Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister that the situation in their country is far worse. The turnout there does not exceed 20%.” According to a Eurobarometre, negative feelings about the EU also translate into a high abstention rate at European elections. Turnout has fallen at every poll since the first in 1979. Many voters complain that they simply do not understand what goes on in Brussels, so they feel disengaged.
“This is a problem which needs to be addressed by the leadership in Brussels and something that I feel will be discussed at the European Commission,” said Anastasiades.
“The political leaders need to look deeper into why Cypriots – and Europeans in general – are so distant from such important events as electing their representatives on the European platform.”
Henri Malosse, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) recently urged the EU’s 400 million voters to go out and vote arguing that apathy will not lead any citizen out of the current crisis.
“The people of Europe have a real opportunity to make their voices heard”, he said. “We must use that to tell those we elect what type of Europe we want. Voter apathy gets us nowhere.”