Apathy is a choice

More apathy than antipathy

The "price" for the lowest voter turnout in the EU went to Slovakia, where a full 13 percent took the opportunity to vote. One reason for this negative record could be that the country has had two rounds of a presidential election and people have become tired of voting. But turnout in European elections was low in Slovakia in the past. The lack of interest "can only be described as catastrophic," says political scientist Martin Klus of the Slovak news agency TASR. Slovakia is not an isolated case among the countries of the eastern half of the EU. From Poland to Bulgaria, voter turnout was below the EU average of 43.1 percent.

No march through by right-wing populists

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from Hungary - his party got more than 50 percent

In the eastern half of the EU, however, there was not only abstention from voting, right-wing parties were also popular there. Your election results do not match the dramatic successes of the Front National in France or the UKIP in Great Britain. But parties with similar goals in Hungary and Austria have achieved remarkable results. In Hungary, the Jobbik party, considered anti-Semitic and xenophobic, came in second with 14 percent of the vote, behind Prime Minister Orbán's all-powerful national-conservative Fidesz party.

And in Austria, the Freedom Party received around 20 percent of the vote, around seven percentage points more than in the last European elections in 2009. According to a survey, however, many of its voters were more concerned with Austrian domestic politics than with Europe, and the party fell short of the predictions. The Freedom Party had waged an election campaign against immigration and for "Austria first, then the EU". But unlike UKIP, it does not call for the EU to be dissolved.

Face Slapping for the governments

If there is one pattern of voting behavior among the eastern EU member states, it is this: voters have punished their governments, but the EU-skeptical parties have done less well than in western Europe. In Bulgaria, for example, the conservative opposition clearly overtook the socialist government. In Croatia, the youngest member of the EU, voters have "slapped the left-wing government of Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic", as various media in the country put it. The clear winner was the conservative HDZ. The right-wing alliance for Croatia, on the other hand, only achieved just under seven percent, which, however, helped it to a seat in the European Parliament. The Polish anti-EU MP Janusz Korwin-Mikke also got a seat. He wants to take action against the alleged corruption in the EU. The vast majority of Poles, on the other hand, opted for either the ruling, economically liberal citizens' platform or the national-conservative Law and Justice party.

Small gifts preserve the friendship of Europe

Punished - Croatia's left-wing government led by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic

With a few exceptions, openly anti-EU parties have had less success in the eastern half of the Union than in the western part.

There are many reasons. But an investigation commissioned by the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the EU's eastward expansion this month could provide an explanation. It states that Poland's accession to the EU has boosted exports, that EU funds have since been used to renovate roads, bridges and railway lines, and that Poles now have better access to schools and better-paid jobs in other EU countries.