• Germany's news in English

Half of Germans back compulsory vote amid falling turnout

David Wroe · 26 Sep 2009, 12:13

Published: 26 Sep 2009 12:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In a survey by the pollster Emnid commissioned by Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 47 percent of people backed compulsory voting, compared with 49 percent against it.

The survey comes as Germany goes into what experts predict could be the lowest turnout ever in a parliamentary election this Sunday. Some 77.7 percent of eligible voters took part in the 2005 election of the Bundestag, the lowest so far.

The proportion in favour was higher in the formerly communist eastern German states with 52 percent backing a compulsory vote compared with 46 per cent in the western half of the country.

Peter Lösche, a political scientist with Göttingen University, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the turnout dropped three or four percentage points further on Sunday and could even go as low as 70 percent.

He said the Emnid poll result was “amazing.”

“I’m really surprised it’s that high,” he told The Local. “If people knew they had to pay a fine, maybe €10 to €50, if they don’t vote, I wonder if it’d be so high.”

He warned that the falling turnout was a worry, as disillusioned voters could be prey for radical political groups such as the far right. However he added that Germany’s participation rate was still much higher than most countries.

The German turnout to the June European Parliament election was a woeful 42.2 percent, which was the lowest since those elections began in 1979.

Story continues below…

Emnid surveyed about 500 people in the past week who are aged 14 or over and would therefore be eligible to take part in the 2013 Bundestag election.

Some 32 countries now have compusory voting, though only 19 enforce it, among them Australia, Turkey and Singapore.

Turnout at the most recent presidential election in the United States was 61.7 percent according to the United States Election Project. Turnout at the last British general election was 61.4 percent, according to ukpolitical.info.

David Wroe (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd