Will Falkirk voters turn out for Euro elections?

Will you be voting on Thursday?
Will you be voting on Thursday?

Elections to the European Parliament haven’t got the greatest record for attracting large turnouts of voters at UK polling stations.

In 2009, the voter turnout was just over 34 per cent.

And although low, that was a considerable improvement from the 24 per cent who bothered to turn out in 1999.

Political analysts have wondered if the apathy is a result of a confusing voting system or simply because people are in the dark about what the Parliament does.

And, even those au fait with European policy and procedures, they are still more likely to turn out for local and Westminster elections.

But with the next vote taking place this Thursday, MEPs are stressing how important and relevant it is to people living in communities like Falkirk.

As well as electing six Scottish MEPs to represent the country in Brussels and Strasbourgh, voters north of the border will help determine who will be president of the European Commission - the EU’s most powerful officeholder.

It’s a first for the Euro elections, giving the electorate more say in Europe’s future.

Labour MEP Catherine Stihler said: “This month’s election for a new European Parliament gives us all the opportunity to change Europe and take it in a new direction.

“It is important the people of Scotland use their vote as this is our chance to set a socialist agenda in Europe after another term of right wing policies being pushed forward in the European Parliament which do not fit in with the view of Europe as a fair and equal place that most of us hold.

“The European Union is the most successful peace process the world has ever known.

“After two World Wars and a Cold War, 28 countries of their own free will, bound by shared values and the rule of law, pool sovereignty in order to face together the challenges of today’s world.

“It is important we remain part of this.

“Decisions taken in Europe affect the daily lives of everyone in Scotland, this is why it is important you use your vote.

“The future of Europe is in your hands, take this chance to make it a better place to live and work.”

This year has seen a more determined drive to get people involved.

With just a few days to go, voters are being reminded that the European Parliament is the only directly-elected body in the EU, and that the chance to influence Europe only rolls around once every five years.

But will it change a poor-turnout trend?

Ian Hudghton, an SNP MEP said: “The European Parliament elections later this month are hugely important and will affect people in Scotland in any number of ways.

“From the thousands of jobs across Scotland the EU supports, to the many consumer and employment rights we take for granted, the EU plays an important role in our everyday lives and the vote this month will help to determine the shape of Europe in years to come.

“Scotland and the EU have been working together as partners for over 40 years, creating jobs and supporting innovative projects across Scotland.

“I firmly believe that we need to continue that partnership - a partnership which the parties at Westminster are happy to see threatened.

“If we want to keep that partnership functioning and keep supporting jobs across Scotland, then it is more important than ever that people go out to vote in the elections on May 22 and make Scotland’s mark in Europe.”