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European Parliament elections 2009 symposium

Listen to talks delivered at the 2009 European Parliament elections symposiuim held at the British Library in June 2009. Subjects included

  • participation in European politics
  • archiving websites created during the election
  • the formation of international political groupings in the early days of the European Parliament.

Keynote delivery

Listen now: European Parliament elections 2009: Report (MP3, 29min, 11.6MB) 

Speaker: Dermot Scott, Head, European Parliament Representation, London

Dermot Scott examined the early results from the elections in the context of previous results and the organisation of parties within the European Parliament. Turnout in European parliamentary elections has shown a decline since very high levels in 1979, although this can in part be attributed to expansion and differing behaviour between countries with regard to election turnout. A decline is less marked in the UK, and the trend has been for the overall percentage of eligible people voting to come close to UK levels. Proportional representation was used for the first time for European Parliament elections in the UK in 1999, and this has been reflected in a wider spread of parties returning MEPs. Voting behaviour in the European Parliament generally follows political allegiance, rather than nationality. However, there are exceptions in cases where there is a strong national interest.  

Other talks

Listen: Enacting European citizenship (ENACT) (MP3, 30min, 11.8MB)

Speaker: Professor Engin Isin, Open University

Enacting European citizenship (ENACT) is an EU-funded, cross-European project focussing on how citizens (and non-citizens) make use of their rights in a European context, and how states enact European law. Projects include studies in Turkey and Latvia on how people use and benefit from access to European institutions, in particular the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. There are also studies of state activity in regulating and restricting citizen rights, and the situation of 'third country nationals' who have residency rights but not citizenship in a European state. Professor Isin gave an overview of the research themes, and described how the ENACT website is making available information on and relevant to the project activities.

Listen: The role of European socialist networks in European policy-making in the 1970s (MP3, 14min, 5.6MB)

Speaker: Christian Salm, PhD student, CEISR Portsmouth University

The origins of the European Parliament and the process that led to the first direct elections to the Parliament in 1979. Christian describes the reaction of European socialist parties, and the reluctance to form formal agreements between national parties. During the 1970s, links between socialist groups in Europe were predominantly informal and included trans-national non-government organisations as well as political parties. Christian's research examines the impact that these arrangements had on policy formation in Europe, and focuses on monetary policy and development policy in the 1970s. 

Listen: Web archiving the European Parliament elections (MP3, 16min, 6.5MB)

Speaker: Alison Hill, Web Archiving Curator, British Library

Listen: Web archiving the European Parliament elections (MP3, 23min, 9.2MB)

Speaker: Jennie Grimshaw, Official Publications Curator, British Library

As part of a cross-European initiative, the British Library archived websites relating to European Parliamentary elections in June 2009. Alison described the context in the UK and across Europe for archiving websites. Archiving of websites is an issue of growing importance due to both the prominence of online methods of communication, and the ephemeral nature of much publishing on the web. Websites were archived across eight countries, although availability of the results varies according to local regulations regarding intellectual property and data protection. The UK Web Archive European Election 2009 collection can be freely accessed online.

The web archive provides a rich record of how political parties, and other interested groups, used the web for campaigning purposes during the election. Jennie described how websites were selected for inclusion in the archive, and the sorts of information that users of the archive can find. Websites were selected from: EU institutions, national parties, candidates, interest groups, and media. Content and strategies vary amongst different groups and also at different levels of campaigning. The 2009 election was marked by the emergence of pan-European political parties, such as Newropeans and Libertas. 

Further information

Social Sciences Reference Service
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7894
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7761

E-mail: Ask the Social Sciences Reference Team

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