How to win the European election

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The European Parliament released its last Eurobarometer ahead of the June election on Wednesday.

The results of the survey, comprised of answers from 26,411 face-to-face interviews conducted between Feb. 7 and Mar. 3, provide campaign managers with a handy snapshot of public sentiment weeks out of the election.

We crunched the numbers to create a step-by-step guide to winning the whole thing.

Step 1: Focus on the key issues …

Across the EU, while there is no runaway “top issue,” fighting poverty and social exclusion, public health, support for the economy and job creation, and defense and security were identified as the topics that should be prioritized during electoral campaigns.

Typically polarizing issues such as gender equality, inclusion and diversity, and humanitarian aid and development assistance ranked at the bottom, with 2 percent and 3 percent of respondents ranking these as desired first priorities for campaigns. Similarly, dryer topics such as consumer rights, and the digitalization of the European economy and society failed to capture the public’s imagination.

Interestingly, the topic of migration and asylum, while making the top 10, did not appear to be as important as could have been expected: Only 8 percent listed it as a first-priority issue, with just shy of a quarter mentioning it as a priority at all.

Step 2: But make sure they are the key issues for your voters!

Naturally, main campaign topics are greatly influenced by national circumstances. It is perhaps not a coincidence that countries on the EU’s “Eastern front” are most concerned with the bloc’s defense and security. Similarly, the fact that migration and asylum is a key issue in Cyprus and Malta reflects the visibility of this issue in those countries.

In addition, first-priority campaign topics differ by generation: For Gen Xers, baby boomers, and people born before 1946, EU defense and security is first priority. On the other hand, millennials prioritize supporting the economy and the creation of jobs and Gen Z is focused on combatting climate change.

Step 3: Pray people show up

Good news! The Eurobarometer data shows that 60 percent of Europeans are at the very least interested in the upcoming election. That may sound like the bar is low, and that is because it is — in the Eurobarometer prior to the 2019 election just shy of 50 percent reported interest.

Plus this is the first Eurobarometer since 2011 in which more EU citizens have a positive image of the European Parliament than a neutral view, so it can only go up from here.

Seventy-one percent of Europeans say they are likely to vote in June, 10 percent higher than those who said they would in 2019 (although only 51 percent ended up doing so).

Despite the history of low turnout (although it has been rising in recent years), Parliament President Roberta Metsola took the optimistic view that “Europeans are aware that the stakes are high at the ballot box. 8 in 10 Europeans say that voting is even more important considering the context.”

Bearing in mind that this survey data is predominantly from February, ongoing global crises could continue to put the election on the map more than in previous years.


For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.