Friday, 6 March 2009

European elections 2009: Pan-European and particular procedures

The European Parliament’s improved public information about the rules for the European elections in June 2009 contains a study ‘The European elections: EU legislation, national provisions and civic participation’ well worth a look by those who are seriously interested in the issues of European level democracy.

The 91 page study was requested by the EP’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs and it was authored by Wilhelm Lehmann. The manuscript was completed in February 2009, so the information is up-to-date:

The bulk of the publication is dedicated to fairly detailed information about the politically salient points of the electoral rules in the individual member states. There are links to national election websites and codes for those who want to dig deeper and a handy synoptic table for readers who want an overview at a glance.


European framework

The short first three Chapters are of special interest from a pan-European viewpoint. After the Introduction (Chapter I), the EU framework is presented in Chapter II. An overview of electoral systems and provisions is given in Chapter III.

The study contains a summary of the failed attempts to enact a uniform electoral code for the European elections and references to the relevant legal acts which harmonise certain aspects.

EU citizenship brought about the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in the country of residence (with derogations granted to Luxembourg). The Treaty of Lisbon would clarify that MEPs represent EU citizens.

Europarties, officially political parties at European level, and their foundations are treated briefly, as well as the changing number of seats and their allocation in an expanding union.


National systems for European elections

The third Chapter deals in summary fashion with similarities and differences between the electoral systems of the various member states: distribution of seats, preferential voting, vacant seats, electoral system, franchise, candidature, nomination of candidates, constituencies, polling days and validation of election results.


Journalists, teachers, researchers, students, candidates and their campaign groups, political activists and interested citizens find the basic information they need in this manual (available in English).

Hopefully the European Parliament continues this trend of making its publications more readily available on-line.

Ralf Grahn