Danish TV2 tells us that we are in for a massive increase in turn-out in the upcoming European Parliament elections – no fewer than 82 per cent of voters declare that they are likely or very likely to vote in the election. When we compare with the turn-out in the 2004 election, this is an increase of 34 percentage points.
Or to put it the other way round: The likelihood that the poll does not reflect the real inclination to vote is pretty big. So the real question is: Why do respondents give the false answer?
Most likely because voting in an election while not obligatory is somehow considered a civic duty and behaviour which is considered to break with general norms is often underreported in polls. To take an example: Support for the Danish People’s Party is always 2-3 points lower in polls than in elections. And even the government is beginning to feel the heat and fear that turn-out may be too low to secure the passing of the revised Succession Act.
Still, even if the royal tinge to the campaign (we had a lovely new little prince a couple of days ago and Danish media were all over the place) may increase turn-out, I wouldn’t expect more than a 4-5 percentage point rise. And I would like to see exactly what question respondents were asked and in what connection.