THIS WEEK’S European elections are seen in the UK as testing the political waters ahead of next year’s general election and showcasing arguments for and against the European Union. But how do the opinions of British voters compare with those across the continent?
To find out, we conducted focus groups and polling in Great Britain, France, Germany and Sweden. We found that the electorates in all countries are united by a desire to stay in Europe, coupled with a demand that the EU makes big changes.
In each country, a majority would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum were held. While the margin is narrow in Britain and Germany, the French back membership by more than two-to-one.
Big majorities also want significant reforms. More than two thirds felt the EU needed to change, rising to almost three quarters in France.
However, this as yet unfulfilled demand for change has not stirred people into action. Instead, voters in the focus groups are largely disengaged when it comes to this week’s elections – either undecided how to vote or planning to use the ballot to express opinions on domestic issues.
David Cameron, who is proposing a referendum on Europe, says he wants Britain to stay in the EU but wants to reform the way it works. Voters across the continent agree with him.
Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov