Identity and Electoral Participation: For a European Approach to European Elections

  • André-Paul Frognier
Part of the Europe in Transition: The NYU European Studies Series book series (EIT)


Most comments on European elections make them out to be meaningless, or in any case deprived of any real meaning. One complains about the number of abstentions, considered an indicator of a deep lack of concern about European politics, which are continually on the increase despite an enlargement in European MPs’ powers during the last two legislatures. As regards both participation and votes cast in favor of a particular party, the dependence of European electoral behavior on national behavior is stressed, and the term “second-order election”2 is used to express this subordination. One is certainly forced to notice that the European voter does not inevitably vote in the same way as a voter does in national elections. European elections sometimes favor the opposition more than the ruling government. But voting is then interpreted as a “release,” enabling the expression of dissatisfaction or the admission of new political actors onto the national scene. Between attraction for the vacuum and confusion as to what is at stake, the European voter appears as sort of faceless or with a funny nose, but certainly not as a … European voter.


National Identity National Election Local Election Electoral Participation European Election 
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Copyright information

© Pascal Perrineau, Gérard Grunberg, and Colette Ysmal 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • André-Paul Frognier

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