01 Oct 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
Europe, Labor market, social policy and social services

Rural areas and the geography of discontent

EU skepticism, anti-EU votes in EP, and national elections have increased over the past 10 years, mainly driven by a combination of long-term economic and industrial decline, low levels of education, and lack of local employment opportunities. Rural areas are often characterised by a combination of these factors. 

The goal of the project commissioned by the Committee of the Regions is to provide data on voters' choices in rural areas and the possibility of different voting patterns in those and in urban areas, building on the recent study by DG REGIO and taking into account a selection of subnational elections. The outcome of the study will contribute to the CoR's key messages in the run-up to the EP elections 2024 with a view to shaping decisions on post-2027 support to rural areas and ways of involving rural citizens, and highlighting the possible contribution of LRAs to countering Euroscepticism and strengthening European democracy. The outcome of the study will feed into the European Commission's report on the implementation of the Long-term vision for rural areas scheduled for early 2024. It will be also used for the follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe, notably concerning the proposals on European democracy, and for future EuropCom editions.  

The study will analyse the data on elections from DG REGIO's study, using the rural-urban regional typology to verify: 

  • whether there are specific voting patterns in rural areas compared to non-rural areas; 
  • how these voting patterns are likely to develop in the future if the development trap is not addressed in rural areas (analysis of alternative scenarios); 
  • what factors or combination of factors influence votes in rural areas with a high level of soft and/or hard Eurosceptic votes. 

The study will also try to answer whether these voting patterns for European and national elections correspond to electoral choices in selected subnational (local and regional) elections. Reasons for differences in these voting patterns will be examined. 

Client: Committee of the Regions 

Project leader: Milieu Consulting 

Project partner: CASE