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Europe’s Political Transcendence

WASHINGTON, DC – This month, European citizens will head to the polls to select the 751 members of the European Parliament to represent 507 million people. The way the election campaign has unfolded marks a small but significant step in the emergence of the first transnational political space in European – indeed, world – history.

To be sure, the European Parliament elections have been bringing smaller shares of voters to the polls: 43% in 2009, compared to almost 60% in 1978-1994. Nonetheless, the participation rate over the last decade is comparable to average turnout in American congressional elections. Given the perceived remoteness of the European parliament and widespread frustration with the European Union’s bureaucracy, the level of participation and the movement toward transnational politics is remarkable.