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EU woos young voters through MTV

Caneuhearme website logo (screen grab)
The Commission sees new media as a powerful election tool

Elections can be funky - that appears to be the message of an EU campaign using the MTV entertainment network to stir interest among young Europeans.

"Can you hear me Europe?" involves a series of TV adverts aimed at getting young people to vote in the European Parliament elections on 4-7 June.

They will be able to express their wishes and ideas on a website called www.caneuhearme.eu.

A new survey suggests 53% of Europeans are not interested in the elections.

The latest Eurobarometer opinion poll, conducted by the European Commission, concluded that "interest in the elections is not increasing". It surveyed 27,218 Europeans in mid-January to mid-February.

In the UK, 30% of respondents said they would definitely not vote - far more than in other EU member states. The next largest "definitely not" group was in Poland - 19%. The EU average in that category was 15%.

About 1,000 people are polled in each member state in the standard Eurobarometer surveys, conducted twice-yearly.

In the first European elections, in 1979, voter turnout was 63%, but it has declined steadily. In 2004 it was 45.7%.

'Roaring sound wave'

The European Commission is spending 1.9m euros (£1.7m; $2.5m) on the election ads broadcast by MTV Networks, which include Music Television (MTV), VH1, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

MTV channels are broadcasting three TV spots showing young people hanging loudspeakers in London, Paris and Rome. MTV is also inviting young people to take part in a "roaring sound wave" across Europe on 30 April, when they will all shout "Can you hear me Europe?"

"Young people are the future of the European Union. We need their ideas and their active involvement. They need to know that their voice counts," said Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom.

Antonio Campo dall'Orto, Executive Vice President of Music Brands for MTV Networks International, said "empowering young people, engaging with them in building a future... is a priority for us, and Europe can and should play a fundamental and positive role in this".

According to the Eurobarometer poll, unemployment is by far the most important campaign issue for voters.

The survey also noted a strong demand for the EU to prioritise social protection in the face of the current economic crisis.

The poll found 48% of respondents calling for the European Parliament to play a more important role in future.

The group least likely to vote was found to be students, of whom 27% were not intending to do so. The overall figure for respondents aged 15-24 who would not vote was 25%.



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MEP Seats

  Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
EPP 33.4 -1.4 264 -18
Socialists 23.2 -4.1 183 -26
Liberal 11.0 +1.6 84 +5
Green 7.4 +1.3 50 +9
Left 5.3 -0.6 34 -2
UEN 3.4 +1.6 28 +2
Ind/Dem 2.7 -1.8 21 -15
No Group 13.6 +3.4 72 +3.4
0 of 27 countries declared.

UK Total MEP Seats

Party Votes MEPs
% +/- % Total +/-
CON 27.7 1.0 *26 1
UKIP 16.5 0.3 13 1
LAB 15.7 -6.9 13 -5
LD 13.7 -1.2 11 1
GRN 8.6 2.4 2 0
BNP 6.2 1.3 2 2
SNP 2.1 0.7 2 0
PC 0.8 -0.1 1 0
OTH 8.5 2.4 0 0
SF 1 0
DUP 1 0
72 of 72 seats declared. Vote share figures exclude Northern Ireland as it has a separate electoral system to the rest of the UK
* Includes UCUNF MEP elected in Northern Ireland
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