Damien McElroy and Bruno Waterfield
London Telegraph 
Thursday, June 4, 2009
It has been proclaimed as the biggest democratic exercise in history but the European election is likely to be marred by a historically low turnout.
The European Commission has projected that only 34 per cent of the eligible electorate would vote, a dramatic drop from the 45 per cent turnout at the last election.
Officials have blamed a series of “distractions” – from local economic woes to fringe candidates dominating national campaigns – for sliding interest among the 375 million eligible voters.
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The forecast prompted a warning from Margot Wallstrom, the Commission’s vice-president for communication, that the credibility of the EU’s only democratic institution is at stake. “The legitimacy of your parliament, and that of the Union as a whole, is at stake,” she wrote in a recent internal document.
Voters in 27 countries will elect 736 MEPs over four days starting on Thursday, with the results due to be released on Sunday night.