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Miscommunicating Europe? Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe

Simona Guerra

In 2009 the European Parliament elections confirmed the general average decreasing turnout. Also, the 'Eurogap' between old Member States plus Malta and Cyprus (54.01%) and the post-communist new EU Member States (22.93%t) resulted almost unvaried compared to 2004. This paper presents a comparative qualitative analysis of the Polish and Bulgarian cases before and after the 2009 EP elections. Focus groups held in Bulgaria and Poland on Friday 5 June and a follow-up questionnaire on citizens' interest towards the EU institutions as well as on the role of information explain to what extent citizens from the 'new Europe' feel engaged with the EU political process. An overview on further focus groups carried out in Poland in 2007 on the role of information shed light on citizens' trusted sources of information. If in Central and Eastern Europe the quality of information on the EU is 'abysmal', citizens are interested in basic informationon the EU and trust the information provided by the Centres of European Information, think tanks and politicians they personally know. This paper answers on what information can be conveyed to the citizens and whether it was Europe or domestic political issues to (not)mobilise citizens out to vote in 2009.

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