Political Knowledge of The European Union among Finnish Citizens and Its Effects to Political Participation

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: The discussion about what kind of standards are required from democratic citizens dates back to Ancient Greece, Aristotle, and Plato. Democracies require democratic citizens with specific knowledge, competences, and character to work properly (Galston, 2001, p.217). In this thesis, the main focus is on political knowledge on the EU matters and political participation in a form of voting. The research is conducted as a case study of Finnish citizens, were the turnouts in the EP elections have been consistently below the EU average. The data used in the thesis comes from the Knowledge of Politics and Society 2008 survey. The thesis uses a quantitative research method to analyze the distribution of political knowledge among Finnish citizens and the relationship between factual political knowledge and voting as a form of political participation, and how different sociodemographic factors affect political knowledge and participation. The findings reveal that the level of political knowledge on the EU matters among Finnish citizens is rather low and that respondents with higher political knowledge are more likely to think that voting in elections is meaningful or important. Finnish citizens do not consider EP elections very important to vote in, however, voting in overall is considered as a meaningful form of civic participation. The results of a low level of political knowledge and the idea that voting in the EP elections is not important might pose an issue to the legitimacy of the EU in the framework of democratic theory.

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