‘It’s like kissing your own sister’, the Swedish Prime Minister allegedly remarked at a dinner for selected Nordic journalists two weeks before the EP elections. When the comment was finally reported by the media well after the election the PM commented that the turnout had proved him right; the election had not aroused any strong feelings. Turnout had fallen from 38.8 per cent in 1999 to 37.8 per cent in 2004, despite the high political salience of European integration. This stems from a vocal Eurosceptic public; a very high degree of electoral mobilisation for the referendum on the euro, where 82.6 per cent voted; and the public debate on the draft constitutional treaty. Moreover, early spring 2004 saw an impassioned debate about the free movement of workers after EU enlargement. This arose when the government suddenly started emphasising the risks of ‘social tourism’ and changed its liberal position on transitional rules only to be defeated in the national parliament after an unusually heated debate. Thus the conditions for an interesting and lively election campaign and high turnout were in some senses benign, though other circumstances worked in the other direction. The main challenges facing the political parties were mobilisation of the electorate and what attitude to take to a rather Eurosceptic public.
KeywordsElection Campaign National Parliament Centre Party Transitional Rule Domestic Issue
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