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Russia Says Its Election Turnout 'Higher Than European Average'

Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman

“It [Russia’s election turnout] cannot be called low, you know, in the majority of European countries, in fact, the turnout is much lower.”

Partially True
... but depends on which elections and where

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claims Russia's recent election turnout of 47.81%, as reported by Central Elections Chair Ella Pamfilova, is higher than figures from past elections in most European countries. While Peskov doesn’t specify which elections he’s referring to, his statement is only partly true if turnout in EU countries for national elections versus elections to the European Parliament is analyzed.

To be sure, the total turnout for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament was 42.61%, lower than Russia's official count for its own parliamentary elections.

Of 28 countries that voted in the European parliamentary elections, 19 countries had turnout less than Russia's own domestic elections, with some as low as 13.05% (Slovakia) and 18.20% (Czech Republic), and only 35.60% in the UK and 42.43% in France. Europe’s vote for members of the European Parliament in 2014 drew the lowest turnout ever, reflecting what most analysts say is a lack of voter enthusiasm for the institution.

But an analysis of voter turnout in individual EU countries for their own national elections finds that most have a turnout higher than Russia's.

According to data from the EU, in the last 5 years, all countries, except Romania (41.8% in 2012), had higher voter turnouts than Russia did in their recent national elections.

The average turnout for the total number of EU countries voting in national elections was 68% in 2014. The Czech Republic had 59.5% turnout in 2013; Germany had 71.5% in 2013; Belgium had 89.4% in 2014; Bulgaria had 51.1% in 2014; Hungary was 61.8% in 2014; Slovakia was 59.1% in 2012; the UK had 85.8% in 2014.

According to the Organization for European Interstate Cooperation, in regional elections, nearly all EU countries do significantly better than Russia regarding public participation.

Turnout in Russia's September elections was the lowest since 1993; in 2007, there was 61.91% turnout and in 2011, 57.96% turnout, according to official data.