RECON Online Working Paper 2009/13

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Using Eurobarometer Data on Voter Participation in the 2004 European Elections to Test the RECON Models


Dionysia Tamvaki (University of Reading)



Why do Europeans turn out to cast a vote or fail to do so on Election Day? In this paper a critical review of the 2004 European Parliament (EP) elections under the lens of the democratic deficit debate is attempted, with the use of three distinct models of democracy proposed by the RECON project: a delegated, a federal and a cosmopolitan one. The findings put forward a flexible understanding of electoral participation where delegated/statist indicators boost voting intentions along with a set of proxies of a nascent EU civil society, that allude to a cosmopolitan model of democracy. Respondents’ EU knowledge, active information seeking on EP elections, as well as participation in the euroelectoral campaign play a central role in triggering turnout, along with the usual suspects of the national electoral context (i.e. compulsory voting, strict party lists etc.). Europe matters not only as a functional regime set up to address output problems but as a novel political entity to be discovered by a nascent public sphere. Surprisingly enough, the central element in a federal understanding of EP elections – an exclusive EU identity – weakens voting intentions in the euroelectorate of 2004. The interaction terms included in the analysis, finally, substantiate some inhibitions over the prevalence of delegated indicators in the face of weak socialization mechanisms at the EU level. Put simply, among the ‘old’ fifteen member states and in particular those with an exclusive EU identity, satisfaction with national democratic institutions lowers intended participation in the European electoral arena. The three models of European electoral participation are tested with the use of a pre-election Eurobarometer survey and official electoral statistics.


Democratic Deficit – Elections – European Parliament – Turnout

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