The European elections are direct, free and secret elections that have taken place in the European Union every five years since 1979 , in which the members of the European Parliament are determined. After the election to the Indian parliament, it is the second largest democratic election in the world. The last European elections took place from May 23 to 26, 2019, in Germany and Austria on May 26, 2019.
The members of the European Parliament are elected separately for each member state. The European legal basis for the elections is Paragraph 3 of the EU Treaty and the direct election act passed in 1976 , which forms the general framework for the elections. However, the exact electoral system is determined by each individual member state through national regulations. Since the introduction of the European elections, efforts have been made to standardize the electoral system across Europe, to which the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are expressly mandated under TFEU . However, the contract does not provide for a fixed schedule; minor changes to standardize have been implemented over the years. Since the 2004 European elections , all member states have had to apply the principle of proportional representation , even if they (like France and Great Britain ) use majority voting in national elections .
In the 2014 European elections , most European parties put up EU-wide top candidates for the EU Commission Presidency for the first time . Although the European Council formally has the right to make proposals, it must take into account the result of the European elections in accordance with (7) of the EU Treaty. Since the European Parliament ultimately elects the EU Commission , it has the last word. In 2014, the top candidate of the strongest party, Jean-Claude Juncker ( EPP ), was elected President of the EU Commission. There are efforts in the EU Parliament to make this Spitzenkandidaten principle binding in EU electoral law. In addition, all EU citizens aged 16 and over should be able to vote, be given the opportunity to vote in all elections abroad, and a national or regional threshold clause of 3 to 5% should be applied. In the end, however, there was no majority in the European Parliament for the introduction of transnational lists, which had been discussed for a long time. However, the resolutions require the approval of the European Council for the amendments to enter into force. So far, however, apart from a mandatory threshold clause of 2 to 5%, these initiatives have been rejected by the European Council.
All citizens of the European Union are entitled to vote , whereby citizens living in other EU countries may alternatively vote either at their place of residence or in their country of origin. For this it is necessary to be registered in the local electoral roll for the European elections. The age for the right to vote is 18 in almost all countries, in Austria alone (since the European elections in Austria in 2009 ) and Malta (from the European elections in 2019) it is 16 years. The age for acquiring the right to stand as a candidate (eligibility) also depends on the national regulations of the country of origin. For example, while most EU citizens can be elected from the age of 18, candidates in Italy must be at least 25 years old.
The number of MEPs to be elected is determined separately for each country by a decision of the European Council . The principle of degressive proportionality applies , according to which larger countries generally have more MPs than smaller countries, while smaller countries have more MPs per inhabitant than larger ones . According to (2) of the Treaty on European Union , between 6 and 96 members must be elected in each country.
The candidates are drawn up on lists at national or regional level, mostly through the national parties . In contrast, the political parties at European level only play a limited role in the election, for example by coordinating the election campaigns of their national member parties and adopting joint election programs. However, national parties that are not organized in a European party can also take part in the European elections.
As the different EU Member States have different traditions in setting election dates, the European elections in the different countries do not fall on the same date: in Great Britain and the Netherlands, votes are usually taken during the week, but in Germany , Austria and many other countries Sunday. In some countries, such as Italy , it is also common for polling stations to be open not just on one day, but on two days. Overall, the European elections therefore usually last four days (from Thursday to Sunday). In order to prevent the election from being falsified, official results in all countries should not be announced until Sunday evening. However, this ban has been circumvented several times in the past through the early publication of projections.
In the 2019 European elections in Great Britain, an increasing number of residents from other EU countries complained that they had been refused to participate in the European elections.
Community law bases for the European elections are:
- the Treaty on European Union (in particular Paragraphs 2 and 3),
- the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (in particular paragraph 1),
- the direct election act - decision and act introducing general direct elections for members of the European Parliament of September 20, 1976 , last amended by Council Decision 2018/994 of July 13, 2018 ,
- Council .
The electoral system in the individual states
The following list shows some of the basic parameters for the electoral systems of the individual EU member states; the number of MPs mentioned corresponds to the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty . The exact seat allocation procedure differs from country to country, mostly the D'Hondt , Sainte-Laguë or Hare / Niemeyer procedures are used. Only the preferential voting system used in Ireland , Northern Ireland and Malta is explicitly mentioned in the following list .
|Member State||Seats||election day||Voting age (active / passive)||Constituencies||Threshold clause||Others|
|Belgium||21st||So||18/21||3||-||Preferred votes , compulsory voting|
|Bulgaria||17th||So||18/21||1||~ 5.88%||Preferential votes|
|Ireland||11||Fr.||18/21||4th||-||Transferable individual voting|
|Italy||73||So||18/25||5 2||4%||Preferential votes|
|Latvia||8th||Sat||18/21||1||5%||Preferential votes (also negative)|
|Luxembourg||6th||So||18/18||1||-||Preferential votes , variegation , compulsory voting|
|Malta||6th||Sat||16/18||1||-||Transferable individual voting|
|Netherlands||26th||do||18/18||1||~ 3.85%||Preferential votes|
|Czech Republic||21st||Fri / Sat||18/21||1||5%||Preferential votes|
|United Kingdom||73||do||18/21||12||-||Northern Ireland only : Single Transferable Voting|
The electoral system in Germany
The German legal basis for the European elections - and thus the legal basis for the electoral process in Germany - are the European Election Act (EuWG) and the European Election Regulations (EuWO). The 96 German MEPs are elected in a general, direct, free, equal and secret ballot . The allocation of seats is based on a nationwide calculation based on proportional representation, whereby the 5 percent threshold was applied until the 2009 European elections. According to a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2011, the 5% threshold clause is unconstitutional in Germany. In June 2013 the Bundestag passed a reform of the European electoral law, which in future provided for a 3% threshold clause. This last threshold clause was also overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court on February 26, 2014. In the 2014 European elections there was no longer a threshold clause. In order to move into parliament with a member of parliament, a party must achieve around 0.5 percent of the vote. The election takes place on the basis of list proposals according to the principles of the proportional representation system .
In contrast to the general election , the voter only has one vote with which he can elect a party or other political association . The electoral lists can be submitted as state lists for individual federal states or as a common list for all states.
The distribution of seats has been based on the Sainte-Laguë procedure since the 2009 European elections , previously the Hare-Niemeyer procedure was used. The electoral lists are closed; d. This means that the seats allotted to the nominations will be filled in exactly the order specified on the list; unlike, for example, in local elections in most federal states , the voter can not determine the order himself.
For each candidate there is a substitute candidate who takes over the mandate if the elected MP leaves parliament. The order of the list is only observed if no replacement candidate is named. This regulation should help to guarantee the regional balance of the German MEPs.
The right to vote for German voters is linked to the right to vote in the German Bundestag ; All Germans within the meaning of Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law who have the right to vote in the Bundestag on election day are entitled to vote . Citizens of another EU country are also entitled to vote if they are older than 18 years and have lived in Germany for more than three months. Just like Germans who live in other EU countries, however, they have to decide whether to exercise their right to vote in the state of their citizenship or their place of residence.
The electoral system in Austria
The European elections in Austria take place as proportional representation , with the whole country forming a single constituency. The voters choose a list, but they can also choose a specific candidate from this list, which allows him to improve his position on the list ( preferred vote ). The distribution of seats takes place according to the D'Hondt procedure , with a blocking clause for all lists that have less than 4% of the total number of votes. The right to stand for election is achieved at the age of 18, the active right at 16 years.
The electoral system in the other Member States
In Belgium , the 21 seats are allocated in three constituencies (Flemish constituency 12 seats, Walloon constituency 8 seats, German-speaking constituency 1 seat). There is no threshold clause. The D'Hondt procedure is used to allocate seats .
In Bulgaria , the 18 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is calculated from the quotient of valid votes divided by the number of seats to be allocated, i.e. H. For the 2009 election results , there was a threshold clause of 2,576,434 / 17 = 151,555 votes. The Hare / Niemeyer procedure is used to allocate seats .
In Denmark the 13 seats are allocated in a national constituency without a threshold clause. The parties can enter into list connections . The D'Hondt procedure is used in the upper allocation (to the list connections) as well as in the sub-allocation (to the individual parties in a list) .
In Finland the 13 seats are allocated in a national constituency. There is no threshold clause. Parties can combine to form list connections . The D'Hondt procedure is used in the upper allotment, while the seats in the sub-allotment go to the candidates with the most preferential votes.
In France , voting takes place via national lists with a 5% threshold. The D'Hondt procedure is used to allocate seats . From 2004 to 2014 the election was made through proportional representation with eight constituencies: Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Est, Sud-Ouest, Sud-Est, Massif-Central / Center, Ile-de-France and Outre-Mer. The threshold clause was 5% of the valid votes for each constituency.
In Greece the 22 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is 3% of the valid votes. The allocation method is based on the share quota calculated taking into account the lists that do not participate in the allocation and a two-tier allocation of the remaining seats .
In the Republic of Ireland the election takes place according to the procedure of the transferable individual voting (preferential voting system) with four constituencies (Dublin 3 seats, East 3 seats, North-West 3 seats, South 3 seats). There is no threshold clause.
In Italy the 73 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold is 4% of the valid votes. The parties register district lists in five districts (North Occidentale, North Orientale, Centrale, Meridionale, Insulare). Seat allocation takes place in two steps. In the allocation of seats to the various parties, the respective district lists are viewed as a federal list and the 73 seats are divided between them using the Hare / Niemeyer method . In the sub-allocation to the individual district lists, the seats that a party has won are divided among the five district lists using the Hare / Niemeyer process. Finally, within the district lists, the mandates go to the candidates with the most preferred votes . A special rule applies to parties of national minorities: These can enter into list connections with parties that compete in all five districts, thus increasing their chances of getting a mandate. If the top candidate of an allied minority party receives at least 50,000 preferential votes, he is entitled to a seat. In the European elections in Italy in 2009 , Herbert Dorfmann from the South Tyrolean People's Party won a seat with 84,361 votes.
In Latvia , the 9 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is 5% of the votes cast, but in fact, due to the small number of seats, a better election result is necessary to achieve a mandate. The Sainte-Laguë procedure is used to allocate seats .
In the Netherlands , the 26 seats are allocated in a national constituency. There is no threshold clause. The parties can join together to form lists . The D'Hondt procedure is used in the upper allocation (to the list connections) , while the seats in the sub-allocation (to the individual parties) are allocated according to the Hare / Niemeyer procedure .
In Poland , the 50 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is 5% of the valid votes. The parties register national lists in 13 districts (Katowice, Warszawa 1, Warszawa 2, Wrocław, Kraków, Poznań, Gdańsk, Łódź, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Bydgoszcz, Olsztyn, Lublin, Rzeszów). Seat allocation takes place in two steps. In the upper allocation (to the various parties), the respective district lists are viewed as a federal list and the 50 seats are divided between them using the D'Hondt procedure . In the sub-allocation to the individual district lists, the seats that a party has won are divided among the 13 district lists using the Hare / Niemeyer method .
In Romania , the 33 seats are allocated in a national constituency. There are two threshold clauses: For political parties it is 5% of the valid votes, for independent candidates it is calculated by dividing the valid votes by the number of seats to be allocated. For the 2009 election results, this resulted in a blocking clause of 4,840,033 / 33 = 146,668 votes (approx. 2.9% of the votes). The D'Hondt procedure is used to allocate seats .
In Sweden the 20 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold is 4% of the valid votes. The modified Sainte-Laguë procedure is used to allocate seats . A list candidate can optionally be ticked. If a candidate receives such a direct vote from at least 5% of the voters of the respective party, he will be considered first. If this applies to several, the higher number of direct votes decides.
In Slovakia , the 13 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is 5% of the valid votes. The quota procedure with droop quota and the allocation of remaining seats according to the largest remaining seats is used to allocate seats.
In Spain , the 54 seats are allocated in a national constituency without a threshold clause. The D'Hondt procedure is used to allocate seats . Regional and other smaller parties usually present joint lists to increase their chances of getting a mandate. In some cases, agreements are made in advance that a won seat will rotate between the parties on a list during the legislative period .
In Cyprus , the 6 seats are allocated in a national constituency. The threshold clause is formally 1.8% of the valid votes; In fact, due to the low number of mandates, a significantly better election result is necessary to win a seat at all. The Hare / Niemeyer procedure with a rounded Hare quota is used for the allocation of seats .
In the United Kingdom , the election in Great Britain took place since 1999 as a proportional representation in the D'Hondt procedure in eleven constituencies, corresponding to the nine English regions ( East of England , East Midlands , Greater London , North East England , North West England , South East England , South West England (including Gibraltar ), West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber ) and Scotland and Wales . Until 1994 , the election took place as a majority vote in 78 (1994: 84) constituencies. In Northern Ireland , the procedure of transferable individual voting (preferential voting system) was always used.
Possibility of double voting
Zeit editor-in-chief Giovanni di Lorenzo admitted in the ARD discussion program Günther Jauch on the day of the 2014 European elections that he had voted twice: once in a Hamburg elementary school and once in the Italian consulate. This was possible because, in addition to German citizenship, he also has Italian citizenship, i.e. two EU states (so-called dual citizens). More than a million dual nationals live in Germany. This double voting ispunishablein Germany according to the Criminal Code, but a check is in fact not possible due to a lack of data comparison between the member states of the EU. At the end of September 2014, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU)therefore metwith the Federal Returning Officer and the State Returning Officers in Wiesbaden to discuss measures that could be implemented by the national state, with the aim of preventing double voting in future elections.
History and meaning of the European elections
When the European Communities were founded , the European Parliament (then known as the Parliamentary Assembly ) had hardly any competences. According to Article 138, Paragraph 1 of the EEC Treaty, the MEPs were “appointed by the parliaments from among their number according to a procedure determined by each member state”, so they were also national parliamentarians. However, Article 138 (3) of the EEC Treaty already provided for the possibility of a general European election; he said the Assembly should prepare “draft general direct elections according to a uniform procedure in all member states”, which should then be adopted unanimously by the Council of Ministers and ratified by the member states. This project, which was never fully implemented, essentially already corresponded to today's TFEU .
It was not until 1976 - after the first enlargement of the Communities and in the midst of the euro sclerosis -Crisis - succeeded to the European Council gathered heads of state and government of the member states to agree on the Direktwahlakt. This envisaged the introduction of European elections, albeit initially according to national regulations. Although the European Parliament received no additional powers through the act of direct elections, the first European elections in 1979 were seen as an important symbolic sign. Parliament's newly won democratic legitimacy led to an increased self-confidence of the members of parliament, which was reflected, for example, in the parliament's draft for a European constitution , which was adopted in 1984 on the initiative of Altiero Spinelli . Strengthening the powers of parliament was now seen as the best way to reduce the European democratic deficit.
The real powerlessness of Parliament, however, quickly led to the European elections in the various member states being viewed as “second-tier” elections. Instead of European issues, the election campaign mostly focused on national issues, and in the 1984 European elections many voters used the European elections to punish their respective national governments. The pan-European voter turnout fell from election to election until the 2009 European elections and was lower than the elections to the national parliament in almost all countries. In some Member States, populist or extremist groups that won seats in the European Parliament also benefited from this low turnout.
The EU treaty reforms since the 1990s (in particular the Maastricht Treaty in 1992), through which Parliament gained significantly more powers than the other EU institutions, did nothing to change the trend of falling voter turnout and the dominance of national issues in the election campaign. The European political parties tried to counteract this development by formulating joint Europe-wide election programs . The European Green Party led the way in the 2004 European elections ; in the 2009 European elections , almost all other European parties followed suit. However, even these election programs received little public attention.
The main structural reasons for this are seen to be the lack of transnational lists and top candidates that would enable the elections to be personalized across Europe . The background to this is the comparatively low influence of the European Parliament on the formation of the European executive : while heads of government at national level are mostly elected by parliament, the President of the European Commission is nominated by the European Council , i.e. the heads of state and government of the member states, and by the European Parliament only confirmed. However, here too the influence of the European Parliament increased: the European Council must meanwhile “take into account” the results of the previous European elections when proposing the presidential candidate under (7) of the EU Treaty ; Usually, therefore, the President of the Commission belongs to the European party that has the strongest political group in Parliament . In the run-up to the European elections in 2009 there was therefore a campaign by the European Movement and the Union of European Federalists , among others , who urged that the European parties should put various candidates up for debate during the election campaign.
A fundamental change in the electoral system, through which all or some of the MEPs would no longer be elected from national but from Europe-wide lists, was repeatedly discussed. A corresponding proposal was introduced in 2008 by Andrew Duff , the European Parliament's rapporteur on electoral reform, and passed on April 19, 2011 by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs . It provides for the introduction of transnational European electoral lists for which every European party or parliamentary group in the European Parliament can propose 25 candidates. The European Parliament would now have 751 members elected from the national lists and an additional 25 members elected from the transnational lists. Such a reform would, however, require an amendment to the EU Treaty and would therefore have to be ratified by all EU member states.
With the European elections in 2014 , the changes from the Lisbon Treaty regarding the role and relevance of the European Parliament came into play: the powers of the directly elected body in the European Union were strengthened. As a result, the European elections are also gaining in importance as a political event to legitimize the European Parliament. As a result, a central argument of the by-choice thesis is invalidated. This attributes the low turnout in European elections to the fact that voters attach little importance to the European Parliament and, consequently, to their vote. Despite the new regulation, the participation rate in the 2014 election hardly increased.
Development of voter turnout
While the pan-European voter turnout fell continuously up to the 2009 European elections , it fluctuated very significantly between the individual member states. It is high in Belgium and Luxembourg , where voting is compulsory , but also in Italy and Malta , for example . A particularly low turnout however, there is usually in the United Kingdom as well as in more of in the EU enlargement in 2004 newly acceded Central and Eastern Europe .
The following table shows the development of voter turnout in European elections in the individual countries, in each case as a percentage of the eligible voters.
Previous European elections
The following graphics list the results of the European Parliament elections since 1979.
A total of 410 seats ||
A total of 434 seats ||
A total of 518 seats ||
A total of 567 seats |
A total of 626 seats ||
A total of 732 seats ||
A total of 736 seats ||
A total of 751 seats |
A total of 751 seats |
The following table lists the distribution of the members of the European Parliament among the political groups (absolute numbers and percentages) since 1979, at the beginning and at the end of the legislative period.
Christian Democrats /
Cons. / Eurosceptic
|Right-wing extremists||Non-attached||Total number|
|44 (10.7%)||113 (27.6%)||11 (2.7%)||40 (9.8%)||107 (26.1%)||64 (15.6%)||22 (5.4%)||9 (2.2%)||410|
|48 (11.1%)||124 (28.6%)||12 (2.8%)||38 (8.8%)||117 (27.0%)||63 (14.5%)||22 (5.1%)||10 (2.3%)||434|
|41 (9.4%)||130 (30.0%)||20 (4.6%)||31 (7.1%)||110 (25.3%)||50 (11.5%)||29 (6.7%)||16 (3.7%)||7 (1.6%)||434|
|48 (9.3%)||166 (32.0%)||20 (3.9%)||LDR 45 (8.7%)||113 (21.8%)||66 (12.7%)||30 (5.8%)||16 (3.1%)||14 (2.7%)||518|
|28 (5.4%)||14 (2.7%)||180 (34.7%)||30 (5.8%)||13 (2.5%)||49 (9.5%)||121 (23.4%)||34 (6.6%)||20 (3.9%)||17 (3.3%)||12 (2.3%)||518|
|13 (2.5%)||SPE 198 (38.2%)||27 (5.2%)||14 (2.7%)||45 (8.7%)||162 (31.3%)||20 (3.9%)||12 (2.3%)||27 (5.2%)||518|
|1994 -1999||GUE||SPE||G||ERA||ELDR||EPP / ED||RDE||FE||EN||NI||total|
|28 (4.9%)||198 (34.9%)||23 (4.1%)||19 (3.4%)||44 (7.8%)||156 (27.5%)||26 (4.6%)||27 (4.8%)||19 (3.4%)||27 (4.8%)||567|
|GUE / NGL 34 (5.4%)||214 (34.2%)||27 (4.3%)||21 (3.4%)||42 (6.7%)||201 (32.1%)||UFE 34 (5.4%)||I-EN 15 (2.4%)||38 (6.1%)||626|
|1999 -2004||GUE / NGL||SPE||Greens / EFA||ELDR||EPP / ED||UEN||EDD||TDI||NI||total|
|42 (6.7%)||180 (28.8%)||48 (7.7%)||50 (8.0%)||233 (37.2%)||30 (4.8%)||16 (2.6%)||18 (2.9%)||9 (1.4%)||626|
|55 (7.0%)||232 (29.4%)||47 (6.0%)||67 (8.5%)||295 (37.4%)||30 (3.8%)||18 (2.3%)||44 (5.6%)||788|
|2004 -2009||GUE / NGL||SPE||Greens / EFA||ALDE||EPP / ED||UEN||IND / DEM||ITS 1||NI||total|
|41 (5.6%)||200 (27.3%)||42 (5.8%)||88 (12.0%)||268 (36.7%)||27 (3.7%)||37 (5.1%)||29 (4.0%)||732|
|41 (5.2%)||217 (27.6%)||43 (5.5%)||100 (12.7%)||288 (36.7%)||44 (5.6%)||22 (2.8%)||30 (3.8%)||785|
|2009 -2014||GUE / NGL||S&D||Greens / EFA||ALDE||EPP||ECR||EVS||NI||total|
|35 (4.8%)||184 (25.0%)||55 (7.5%)||84 (11.4%)||265 (36.0%)||55 (7.5%)||32 (4.4%)||27 (3.7%)||736|
|35 (4.6%)||195 (25.5%)||58 (7.3%)||83 (10.8%)||274 (35.8%)||57 (7.4%)||31 (4.0%)||33 (4.3%)||766|
|2014 -2019||GUE / NGL||S&D||Greens / EFA||ALDE||EPP||ECR||EFDD 2||ENF||NI||total|
|52 (6.9%)||191 (25.4%)||50 (6.7%)||67 (8.9%)||221 (29.4%)||70 (9.3%)||48 (6.4%)||52 (6.9%)||751|
|52 (6.9%)||187 (24.9%)||52 (6.9%)||69 (9.2%)||216 (28.8%)||77 (10.3%)||42 (5.6%)||36 (4.8%)||20 (2.7%)||751|
|since 2019||GUE / NGL||S&D||Greens / EFA||RE||EPP||ECR||ID||NI||total|
|41 (5.5%)||154 (20.5%)||75 (10.0%)||108 (14.4%)||182 (24.2%)||62 (8.3%)||73(9.7%)||56 (7.5%)||751|
|39 (5.6%)||146 (21.0%)||68(9.6%)||98 (13.4%)||187 (26.5%)||62 (8.7%)||76 (10.8%)||29 (4.1%)||705|
Previous European elections in Germany
|1979||39.1%||32 + 2 B||10.1%||8th||40.8%||34 + 1 B||6.0%||4th||3.2%||-||-||-||0.8%||-||78 + 3 B||65.7%|
|1984||37.5%||32 + 2 B||8.5%||7th||37.4%||32 + 1 B||4.8%||-||8.2%||7th||-||-||3.7%||-||78 + 3 B||56.8%|
|1989||29.5%||24 + 1 B||8.2%||7th||37.1%||30 + 1 B||5.6%||4th||8.4%||7 + 1 B||-||-||10.8%||6 R||78 + 3 B||62.3%|
Previous European elections in Austria
|2009||30.0%||6th||23.7%||4 + 1 L||17.7%||3||12.7%||2||9.9%||2||0.7%||-||5.3%||0 + 1 z||17 + 2 L||46.0%|
|2019||34.6%||7th||23.9%||5||-||17.2%||3||14.1%||2 + 1 X||8.4%||1||1.8%||-||18 + 1 X||59.8%|
Previous European elections in other countries
- Results of the elections to the European Parliament in Denmark
- Results of the elections to the European Parliament in Luxembourg
- Distribution of seats for United Kingdom MPs in the European Parliament
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