EU internal borders and voting behaviour in European parliament elections



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Tartu Ülikool


This thesis investigates the impacts of the European Union's open border policy on voting behaviour, focusing on vote choice and turnout rates in European Parliament elections within internal EU border regions. This research contributes to the electoral voting behaviour debates, border studies as well as transactionalism and European identity literature, by analysing how the open border policy influences behaviour in EP elections. Thereby enriching the discourses by integrating a spatial dimension related to proximity to internal EU borders to the debates. The central research question examines potential disparities between EU internal border regions and non-border regions in voter turnout and vote choice during the 2019 European Parliament election. Three hypotheses are proposed and tested employing a multi-level regression analysing election data from 1060 NUTS 3 regions across 19 EU member states. Contrary to expectations, the results do not support any of the hypotheses. Proximity to a border does not significantly impact Europhile or Eurosceptic voting behaviour, challenging assumptions about the influence of border adjacency on voting tendencies. The study also reveals a decreased emphasis on EU affairs in border regions during elections and lower voter participation, challenging assumptions about the prioritization of EU integration as a policy issue. These findings suggest that factors beyond geographic proximity to borders play a more dominant role in shaping voting behaviours in EU border regions.