Low Voter Turnout by Polish Immigrants in EU Election and a Debate Over Where to Focus Political Energy
By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Polish immigrants have historically shown more interest in elections in their home country than in U.S. politics. But now the tables may have turned. At two polling sites in New York on Saturday, only 872 people cast their votes in the European Union parliamentary elections, according to consul Przemyslaw Balcerzyk of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York. That is approximately 10 times fewer than the total number who went to the polls in New York to vote in Polish parliamentary elections two years ago. Last November voters in the heavily Polish neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn turned out in large numbers to vote in the presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain.
This was only the second time that Poles participated in an EU election, which typically attracts little attention even in countries that have been members of the European community for a long time. Only around 43% of the EU citizens voted this year, the lowest turnout since this type of election was first held in 1979.
In Poland the turnout was about 24.5%, which was actually more than 5 years ago, when approximately 20% of eligible Poles voted. But among Poles living in the U.S. the election stirred even less interest.