Turnout for European elections highest in 20 years

An Amsterdam polling station for the European Parliament elections, 23 May 2019
An Amsterdam polling station for the European Parliament elections, 23 May 2019Photo: NL Times

While different parties across the European Union are celebrating victories in the European Parliament elections, the biggest winner may be the election itself. The turnout for this election, which was held in all EU Member States between Thursday and Sunday, was the highest since 1979, the European Parliament said on Twitter.

A total of 50.5 percent of EU citizens voted in the elections this year. In the previous European Parliament elections five years ago, the turnout was 42.61 percent. 

In the Netherlands, 41.2 percent of eligible voters cast their vote in the European Parliament elections on Thursday. The turnout for the European elections in the Netherlands is traditionally low, according to Statistics Netherlands. When the first European election was held in 1979, the Dutch turnout was 58.1 percent. That dropped to 30 percent in 1999, and climbed back to 37.3 percent in 2014.

While the turnout in the Netherlands improved, it is still below that of many other EU countries, according to the European Parliament's election results website. Belgium saw a turnout of 89 percent and Luxembourg 84.10 percent. In Malta 72.6  percent of eligible voters cast their vote. Denmark, Germany and Spain all had turnouts above 60 percent.

Countries with a lower turnout than the Netherlands include the United Kingdom (37%) where non-English EU citizens couldn't vote due to an error, Portugal (31.01%), Czech (28.72%), Estonia(37.60%), and Latvia (33.60%). The country with the lowest turnout was Slovakia at 22.74 percent. 

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