The 2019 European Parliament elections saw the highest voter turnout in the last 25 years, with more than half of the EU population voting. This surge in votes has mainly strengthened pro-European parties. At the same time, there has been a worrying regression of democratic values, marked by growing autocratic tendencies and a notable rise in populism, in the heart of the EU. Unfortunately, the European Union is increasingly confronted with the rise of populism, nationalism and Euroscepticism, particularly in rural areas. The accumulation of crises in recent years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, has intensified divisions within European societies. The war in Ukraine, coupled with soaring inflation and the escalating cost of living, has further fueled contentious debates.

For rural areas, these votes are due to a feeling of distance from European policies, and a lack of visibility of what the Union brings to them. This movement is called the “Geography of Discontent” (read our article on this subject).

The Council of Europe has confirmed that the European elections will take place from 6 to 9 June 2024 (press releases, 2023). In order to maintain the positive trajectory seen in the European Parliament elections in previous elections and to extend its influence to national democratic frameworks, it is imperative to address the issue of voter non-participation, with a particular focus on the participation of marginalised and hard-to-reach groups and young people in the European Union. For us, it’s people living in rural areas. Thus, 2023 is a critical time to close the disparities in voter turnout between EU Member States, to strive to increase voter engagement, and to achieve a positive impact on democratic processes at national and European level.

To know more, we invite you to consult the following resources:

  • Council confirms 6 to 9 June 2024 as dates for next European Parliament elections, Council of the European Union. Available here.
  • Philip, A. B. How democratic is the European Union ? The Conversation., Available here.
  • Turnout | Results of the 2019 European elections |European Parliament. (2019, 4 july). Available here.