How do European Parliament Elections work?

This year two biggest democratic systems gone to polls. In India 900 million peoples voted while in Europe 400 million. We know about Indian electoral process so let’s study European electoral process too. In this article we are going to do exactly that.

European Parliament (EP)

The parliament of EU is the only trans-national parliament in the world. Also, it is the only EU body directly elected by citizens. It’s like 28 nations has accepted EP as their common parliament.  Though, EP was formed in 1952 but direct elections started to held from 1979. It has powers over the EU budget and legislation with the EU council.

Election process

  • Held after every 5 years by Universal adult suffrage in all 28 member nations of EU. 400 million EU citizens chooses 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
  • Elections are held at national level. EU citizens vote for the candidates or parties of their country of origin or residence.
  • The minimum age is 18 except in Austria and Malta(16) and Greece (17).
  • Voting is compulsory in Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greeceand Luxembourg-though the rule is not always followed.
  • Number of seats to parliament is allocated according to the size of the country’s population. The smallest, Malta and Luxembourg has six seats and the largest, Germany has 96. France has 74 and UK has 73.
  • Voting processes vary from one country to another, but include some element of proportional representation, meaning that each political party or list of candidates gets a number of seats equivalent to their share of the vote.
  • Vote casting using Ballot papers. The ballot paper consists of lists of parties with a box containing a “closed list” of candidates pre-selected to run by the party. Independents are listed individually.

Who can stand for election?

Generally, any voter is eligible to stand for elections unless he has been convicted of an act which in public opinion makes them unworthy of being a MEP.

What happens after elections?

Once elected, MEPs are organized by transnational groups that reflect their political affiliation. Thecurrent parliament has eight groups.The party with the largest number of seats gets to appoint the President.

Low Voter’s Participation

Despite the important role the parliament plays, voter turnout has dropped from 62% in 1979 to 43%in 2014. In some countries, participation is incredibly low. Only 13% of Slovakian voters went to the polls in the last elections of 2014.
Though this year, provisional voters’ turnout was 50.95 %. Many analysts are attributing the rise in voter enthusiasm to increasing levels of support for populist parties, a high desire to show support for the European project and increasing awareness about climate change.


European parliament is a unique institution in uniting the many European Nations. It is a unique example of trans-national cooperation and so is its elections. Electoral process is complex due to respect for each nation’s electoral tradition but at last the smooth working of the parliament gives a satisfaction to all the democracy lovers.

Mohd. kamran Ali (



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The Radical - Information That Matters: How do European Parliament Elections work?
How do European Parliament Elections work?
The Radical - Information That Matters
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