Majority not interested in European polls – survey
Figure of 62% having little interest in elections was found in 12 EU countries
The highest level of interest in the European elections was expressed in Poland with the lowest in the Netherlands. Photograph: Getty Images
A majority of Irish people say they are not interested in the European elections and they have very little awareness of the contenders for the presidency of the Commission, according to an Ipsos poll conducted across 12 EU countries.
Asked if they were interested in the upcoming European elections 38 per cent said they were either very much or fairly interested but 62 per cent said not so much or not at all. This finding was exactly the same as the average across the 12 countries surveyed by Ipsos. The highest level of interest was expressed in Poland with the lowest in the Netherlands.
Asked about the likelihood to vote 66 per cent of Irish people said definitely or probably which was very close to the average across the 12. The highest likelihood of voting is in Belgium, where it is mandatory, with the lowest likelihood of voting being in the UK.
Low interest level
Despite the low level of interest, the poll showed more people expect the outcome to have a positive interest on the political life of their countries than a negative one. However, people across the 12 countries showed a very limited awareness of the candidates being put forward by the various parties in the European election for the post of Commission president.
This is the first time that the European parties are obliged to nominate their candidate for the post. In Ireland, the candidate marginally ahead is Jean-Claude Juncker, the nominee of the European Peoples’ Party of which Fine Gael is a member. He has a positive rating of 16 per cent and a negative rating of 13 per with the rest either unaware of him or holding no opinion.
Martin Schultz the nominee of the Party of European Socialists, of which the Labour Party is a member, has a positive rating of 15 per cent and a negative rating of 10 per cent. Guy Verhofstadt, of the Liberal group to which Fianna Fáil is affiliated, has a positive rating of 9 per cent and a negative rating of 12 per cent with the rest unaware or having no opinion.
Marine Le Pen
The European Left party led by Alexix Tsipras, has a positive rating of 9 per cent and a negative rating of 15 per cent while the two Green nominees have a slightly more positive rating. The leader of the far right group, Marine Le Pen, has a positive rating of 12 per cent in Ireland but easily the highest negative rating of 21 per cent. Across the 12 she is easily the best known of the candidates but she also attracts a much more negative response than any of the other candidates for the Commission presidency.
The survey was conducted by way of 8,333 interviews conducted online across 11 countries, including Ireland where there were 500. In the 12th country, Croatia, interviews were conducted by telephone.