Can you name your MEP?

New survey shows widespread apathy over European parliament

LAST UPDATED AT 08:35 ON Sun 11 May 2014

JUST 11 per cent of UK voters can name their MEP, according to a new poll that reveals considerable disengagement with the EU.

The survey, in The Observer, found that people are five times more like to be able to name their local MP than any of their MEPs.  Some 52% of those surveyed could name their MP and 31% could name of their local or county councillors.

It also found that just 8% of voters have contacted their MEP, while 79% say they have never considered doing so.

Of those UK voters responding to the survey, just 27% could name José Manuel Barroso as president of the European commission, with 19% believing the position is filled by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.

Despite this picture of disengagement with the EU, the poll found that more people (43%) think the European parliament is an important part of how Britain is governed, with just 37% believing it is unimportant.

Turnout is expected to be low for this month’s European elections. In 2009 it was just 34%. The continued lack of engagement will alarm the EU establishment which fears that this apathy will help anti-EU parties to gain an even tighter stranglehold on the European parliament.

It is believed that Eurosceptic parties could gain as much as 30% of the vote across the continent. As anti-EU feeling rises, that could leave such parties with up to 200 MEPs.

In France, the Front National is leading the polls, with the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, hoping to form a new anti-EU alliance with far-right Dutch extremist Geert Wilders. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.