A new electoral law for the European Parliament

Members of the European Parliament want to make EU elections more European. With mandatory "Spitzenkanidaten", an EU-wide constituency and a lowering of the voting age to 16.

How did we get here?

The interest in European Parliament elections is generally very low. Last time, in 2014, a record low of only 43% of EU citizens decided to vote in these EU elections. Sure, there are different reasons: One of them being that the electoral rules are quite complex and differ considerably from one Member State to the next. As a result, political debates ahead of the elections tend to focus on domestic issues.

 

Why is this important for me?

Because it will make it easier to a) participate in the political process and to b) see what your vote in the election actually means. With the proposed reform, voting for the EP also gets more democratic and more transparent. For example, it will make sure that Europeans who currently live abroad in a non-EU country can vote as well. Additionally, identifying a specific politician for a specific political decision should become more straightforward, making it easier for you to punish or reward the politician during the next elections. 

 

What's the content?

The report by Danuta Hübner (HUN) and Jo Leinen (GER) was already adopted in the European Parliament.

Here are the suggestions on what to change in the current law:

MEPs from the pro-EU groups have made a very bold move this week, asking for fundamental changes to the way the European elections are to be conducted from now on. If these are adopted, in 2019 we will witness a very different kind of European elections, much more similar to the national ones, which would enhance the legitimacy and the power of the MEPs and of the EU institutions as a whole. However, important political players are yet to be convinced.

Key reforms wanted

The proposals are meaningful and in line with the efforts of the Members of the EU Parliaments (MEPs) to make the elections more European. EU parliamentarians have asked that the spitzenkandidaten process, which was experimented in 2014, be enshrined into law and that political families should come up with their nominees with at least 12 weeks before the elections. Moreover, a new EU-level constituency is to be created, in which lists are to be headed by each political family’s nominee for the post of President of the Commission. A threshold of between 3% and 5% is to be introduced in larger constituencies to avoid too much fragmentation in the European Parliament.

The names and the visual identity of the European political parties are to be promoted in the electoral materials at national level to enhance the European dimension. Gender equality is to be observed and the voting age should be lowered to 16 years old.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

MEPs from the pro-EU groups have made a very bold move this week, asking for fundamental changes to the way the European elections are to be conducted from now on. If these are adopted, in 2019 we will witness a very different kind of European elections, much more similar to the national ones, which would enhance the legitimacy and the power of the MEPs and of the EU institutions as a whole. However, important political players are yet to be convinced.

Key reforms wanted

The proposals are meaningful and in line with the efforts of the Members of the EU Parliaments (MEPs) to make the elections more European. EU parliamentarians have asked that the spitzenkandidaten process, which was experimented in 2014, be enshrined into law and that political families should come up with their nominees with at least 12 weeks before the elections. Moreover, a new EU-level constituency is to be created, in which lists are to be headed by each political family’s nominee for the post of President of the Commission. A threshold of between 3% and 5% is to be introduced in larger constituencies to avoid too much fragmentation in the European Parliament.

The names and the visual identity of the European political parties are to be promoted in the electoral materials at national level to enhance the European dimension. Gender equality is to be observed and the voting age should be lowered to 16 years old.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

Read an in-depth analysis of the report.

MEPs from the pro-EU groups have made a very bold move this week, asking for fundamental changes to the way the European elections are to be conducted from now on. If these are adopted, in 2019 we will witness a very different kind of European elections, much more similar to the national ones, which would enhance the legitimacy and the power of the MEPs and of the EU institutions as a whole. However, important political players are yet to be convinced.

Key reforms wanted

The proposals are meaningful and in line with the efforts of the Members of the EU Parliaments (MEPs) to make the elections more European. EU parliamentarians have asked that the spitzenkandidaten process, which was experimented in 2014, be enshrined into law and that political families should come up with their nominees with at least 12 weeks before the elections. Moreover, a new EU-level constituency is to be created, in which lists are to be headed by each political family’s nominee for the post of President of the Commission. A threshold of between 3% and 5% is to be introduced in larger constituencies to avoid too much fragmentation in the European Parliament.

The names and the visual identity of the European political parties are to be promoted in the electoral materials at national level to enhance the European dimension. Gender equality is to be observed and the voting age should be lowered to 16 years old.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

 

The creation of a joint EU-wide constituency, in which lists are to be headed by each political family’s nominee for the post of President of the Commission was approved by 360 votes in favour to 237 against. - See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

What's happening with this legislation in the future?

Interesting question. In this case, the Parliament is using a special procedure. Under this, it has the right to actually propose new voting rules. However, the 28 Member States all have to accept these reforms unanimously since these they would concern national electoral laws. This is very unlikely to happen. Prime-ministers like Cameron and Orbán will most likely not support the Spitzenkandidaten idea. And Germany just abolished its electoral 5% threshold before the 2014 elections. Consequently, after the Parliament adopted this dossier, it now faces fierce discussions among Heads of State. The discussion might pop up again when we move closer to the next European elections in 2019.

The Treaty (art. 223/1 of TFEU) gives the European Parliament the right to initiate a reform of the European electoral law by formulating proposals, which the Council will have to decide upon by unanimity. Then, the amendments to the European Electoral Act are submitted for ratification to the Member States according to their constitutional requirements.

With the proposed reform, the rapporteurs aim at increasing the democratic dimension of the European elections and reinforcing the Union citizenship. They wish to improve the functioning of the European Parliament and make the work of the Institution more legitimate.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

The Treaty (art. 223/1 of TFEU) gives the European Parliament the right to initiate a reform of the European electoral law by formulating proposals, which the Council will have to decide upon by unanimity. Then, the amendments to the European Electoral Act are submitted for ratification to the Member States according to their constitutional requirements.

With the proposed reform, the rapporteurs aim at increasing the democratic dimension of the European elections and reinforcing the Union citizenship. They wish to improve the functioning of the European Parliament and make the work of the Institution more legitimate.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf

The Treaty (art. 223/1 of TFEU) gives the European Parliament the right to initiate a reform of the European electoral law by formulating proposals, which the Council will have to decide upon by unanimity. Then, the amendments to the European Electoral Act are submitted for ratification to the Member States according to their constitutional requirements.

With the proposed reform, the rapporteurs aim at increasing the democratic dimension of the European elections and reinforcing the Union citizenship. They wish to improve the functioning of the European Parliament and make the work of the Institution more legitimate.

- See more at: http://www.votewatch.eu/blog/spitzenkandidaten-eu-wide-constituency-and-europenisations-of-elections-rules-for-2019-meps-asked/#sthash.ye8Qnyng.dpuf
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