High participation rate in the elections to the European Parliament is vital for democracy in Europe

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As President of the LO, I am looking forward to the election day, 7 June. We will then have, all of us, the possibility of voting for the society and the Europe that we want. It is both our right and our duty to assume our responsibility for democracy. Every vote is important, Wanja Lundby-Wedin said at a meeting in Västerås some days ago, organised to launch the Social Democratic Party’s election campaign for the European Elections.
Wanja Lundby-Wedin stated that the participation rate in the European elections is decisive for the living and working conditions and for democracy in Europe. Participation rate in the elections has up to now been low in most EU member states. The power and the importance of the Parliament has increased, but the number of those who have voted has declined. In the elections of 2004, Sweden had the lowest turnout of all the “old” member states.

The fact that so many people, especially blue-collar workers, abstain from voting is a threat to democracy. There is a risk that there will be forces from the extreme right representing Sweden in the European Parliament; forces that try to make advantage of the crisis facing Europe and to create antipathy and rivalry between people.

The important thing now is to increase participation, especially that of young people, among whom only one out of four voted last time. If we can manage to get more people go out and vote, this will reinforce democracy and the support for Social Democrats. In fact, there is a large potential of voters who could be convinced. Participation rate in general elections in Sweden is very high, around 80 per cent. So there is no reason why we should be at ease with the 25 per cent participation rate in the EU elections.

Wanja pointed out that it is important to highlight everyday issues from a perspective of solidarity. A common labour market must not lead to lower wages and poorer union rights as a result; the prevailing principle must be equal treatment.

Wanja Lundby-Wedin also mentioned that we always have a choice: in difficult times it is even more important to show solidarity and to stand up for each other. Giving your vote on 7 June is caring for democracy both in Sweden and in the rest of Europe.