ELECTIONS IN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Elections to the Parliament of the European Union take place every five years by universal adult suffrage. No other body is directly elected although the Council of the European Union and EuropeanCouncil is largely composed of nationally elected officials. Europarties have the exclusive right to campaign EU-wide for the European elections Voting system here is no uniform voting system for the election of MEPs; rather, each member state is free to choose its own system, subject to three restrictions: - The system must be a form of proportional representation, under either the party list or single transferable vote system. - The electoral area may be subdivided if this will not generally affect the proportional nature of the voting system. - Any election threshold on the national level must not exceed five percent.
Country by country Most of the member states of the European Union elect their MEPs with a single constituency covering Country by Countrythe entire state elected using party-list proportional representation . There is still great variety of electoral procedures within these countries with some countries using a highest average method of proportional representation, and others a largest remained method, some open lists and others closed. In addition, the way in which the quota is calculated, and the threshold varying from country to country. The exceptions to the rule of a single constituency and party list PR are:Belgium, where the country is split into 3 constiuencies: the Dutch speaking electoral college, the French speaking electoral college, and the German speaking electoral college. Each of these elects their MEPs using party list PR, but the German speaking constituency only has 1 member, so that seat is not elected strictly by a proportional method.France, where the county is split into 8 constituencies, each electing its members by party list PR.Ireland, MEPs are elected by Single transferable vote, so the country is split into 4 three member constituencies to avoid having ballot papers that are too long and complex.Malta, where MEPs are elected by single transferable vote.United Kingdom, split into constituencies representing Scotland, Wales, Northem Ireland and each of the regions of England. Northern Ireland uses single transferable vote in common with the republic and other elections in Northern Ireland, the constituencies on Great Britain use party lists.
Europarties The European Union has a multi-party system comprised by a number of ideologically diverse Europarties. As no one Europarty has ever gained power alone, their affiliated parliamentary groups must work with each other to pass legislation. Since no pan-European government is formed as a result of the European elections, long-term programmatic coalitions have yet to take place. Europarties have the exclusive right to campaign for the European elections; their parliamentary groups are strictly forbidden to campaign and to spend funds for any campaign-related activity. With the Lisbon Treaty now in-force, Europarties are obliged from now-on to put forward a candidate for President of the European Commission; each Presidential candidate will, in fact, lead the pan-European campaign of the Europarty. The two major parties are the centre-right European Peoples Party and Party of European Socialists. They form the two largest groups, (called EPP and S&D respectively) along with other smaller parties. There are numerous other groups including communists, greens, regionalists, conservatives, Liberals and eurosceptics. Together they form the seven recognised groups in the parliament. MEPs that are not members of groups are known as non-inscrits.
Voter behaviour Analysis contend that European elections are fought on national issues and used by voters to punish their governments mid-term. Turnout has also been falling steadily since the first elections in 1979 indicating increased apathy about the Parliament despite its increase in power over that period. The turnout is an increasingly big issue. Despite falling below 50% since 1999, turnout is not yet as low as that of the which usually fall below 40%. The turnout has fallen in every EU election since the first. In 2009, the overall turnout was just 43%, down from 45.5% in 2004. In Britain the turnout was just 34.3%, down from 38% in 2004. However that situation is not criticised so much due to the fact the US President is elected separately, whereas the EU Commission President is appointed. Some such as former Parliament President has also noted that the 1999 election turnout was higher than the previous US Presidential election. It is hoped though that by more closely linking that post to the elections, turnout should increase.
Proposed ReformsAs of 2011 reforms by Liberal Democrat MEP are being considered by Parliament which are seen as the most significant overhaul of the electoral system since elections began. 25 extra MEPs would be added on a transnational European list with its candidates being selected by the European party groups rather than national member parties. The candidate lists would have to represent a third of member states and are seen as a way to personalise and dramatise the elections in order to reengage an apathetic electorate. Duff sees the next Commission President possibly coming from the transnational list. Duffs proposals also include a single electoral roll, regular reapportioning of seats, one set of immunity rules and the holding of elections in May rather than June. However, due to a waning of support and possible opposition from member states, Duff has taken the proposal back to committee in order to get broader support before putting them before the plenary in autumn 2011.
Commission President The third had a short mandate, in order to bring the terms of the in line with that of the Parliament. Under the the would have to take into account the results of the latest European elections and, furthermore, the Parliament would ceremonially "elect", rather than simply approve, the Councils proposed candidate. This was taken as the parliaments cue to have its parties run with candidates for the with the candidate of the winning party being proposed by the Council. This was partly put into practice in 2004 when the European Council selected a candidate from the political party which won . However at that time only one party had run with a specific candidate: the , who had the first true pan-European political party with a common campaign, put forward . However the fractious nature of the other political parties led to no other candidates, the Peoples Party only mentioned four or five people theyd like to be President. The Constitution failed ratification but these amendments have been carried over to the which came into force in 2009. There are plans to strengthen the European political parties in order for them to propose candidates for the 2009 election. The have already indicated, in their October 2007 congress, their intention for forward a candidate for the post as part of a common campaign. They failed to do so however the did select Barroso as their candidate and, as the largest party, Barrosos turn was renewed. The Socialists, disappointed at the 2009 election, agreed to put forward a candidate for Commission President at all subsequent elections. There is a campaign within that party to have open primaries for said candidate.
Comission President 2 In February 2008, President Barroso admitted there was a problem in legitimacy and that, despite having the same legitimacy as Prime Ministers in theory, in practice it was not the case. The low turnout creates a problem for the Presidents legitimacy, with the lack of a "European political sphere", but analysis claim that if citizens were voting for a list of candidates for the post of President, turn out would be much higher than that seen in recent years. With the now in-force, are obliged from now-on to put forward a candidate for ; each Presidential candidate will, in fact, lead the pan-European campaign of the Europarty. The proposed in 2010 that Commissioners be directly elected, by member states placing their candidate at the top of their voting lists in European elections. That would give them individually, and the body as a whole, a democratic mandate.