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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks at the European Parliament, Strasbourg, France, April 16, 2019 (AP photo by Jean-Francois Badias).

Why Are So Many Voters Still in the Dark About What the European Parliament Does?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

MADRID—Europeans will elect a new European Parliament in May, but how many of them really know what it does? The continued lack of common knowledge across Europe about the European Union and how its byzantine governance institutions actually function is a challenge for political parties and their candidates. It is why these races have typically revolved around domestic issues. This time, however, populist and euroskeptic parties are bringing some EU issues into the debate, such as migration, but as a way to criticize the EU, not constructively engage with it. They have a receptive audience, as they are poised to win more than a third of European Parliament seats.

Across the continent, elections for the EU’s only directly elected institution will still mostly play out as referendums on national governments and domestic issues, rather than big picture debates about Europe and policies in Brussels. “There is no European election; there are 28 elections,” says Diego Lopez Garrido, the former Spanish secretary of state for the EU and now the executive vice president of the think tank Fundación Alternativas, in Madrid. ...

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