Take a look at this promo video a French friend sent me. If you watch it through you’ll notice something strange. It’s meant to be a video crossing linguistic and cultural barriers – by the youth of Europe for the youth of Europe – urging them to vote in the European elections.
Yet the British are conspicuously absent. The English subtitles and a few good attempts by (my guess is) a Scandinavian at an English accent cannot mask the fact that our fellow countryman have not got involved in this project.
From my experience of living in France, Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to politics. According to the stereotype, we’re too busy drinking tea to get down to the polling booth.
Poor British turnout in the 1999 European elections seemed to confirm this. Just under 23% of us voted, compared with the 50% of Europeans who cast their ballots.
Our performance in the last European elections was, however, much better, with 39% of Brits turning out. In 2004 we showed Europe that, although are feelings towards it are often at best ambivalent, we at least cared enough to have a say on its policies. Unlike France, there has actually been an upward trend in Britain in voter turnout in the European elections.
Whatever the reasons for us not being involved in Five Friends for Europe campaign, we can still show our amis across the channel that we’re politically engaged enough to vote in the EU elections.
Still unsure? Try votematch – a quick online questionnaire which works out which parties you agree with most by getting you to click “agree” or “disagree” to different policy statements. Even if it doesn’t throw up the party your heart tells you to vote for, at will at least get you thinking about the issues.
See you at the polling station…