Sunday, May 29, 2022

The most important questions about European elections


Zubair Yaqoob
The author has diversified experience in investigative journalism. He is Chief content editor at

On Thursday, May 23, until Sunday, May 26, approximately 400 million EU citizens are called to vote for the European Parliament. The election takes place over several days in order to comply with the different voting habits of the EU states. For example, in the United Kingdom or the Netherlands, Thursday is traditionally chosen, while in Germany election day is always a Sunday. The polling stations are also in Germany. European elections usually open from 10 am to 6 pm.

Who is elected?

In the European elections, the representatives of the European Parliament are elected in each EU member state. In Germany, 41 parties compete for the votes of the citizens. Because the CSU competes only in Bavaria and the CDU in the other federal states, 40 parties can be found on the actual ballot – so it reaches a considerable length. Another peculiarity of the Union parties: While all other parties have set up nationwide electoral lists, send the Christian Democrats in each state other candidates into the race. Accordingly, voters throughout Germany, for example, the SPD top candidate Kartina Barley to give her voice. Their EU counterpart Manfred Weber, on the other hand, can only be found on the Bavarian election list.

At 96, Germany sends out most of the 751 Members of the European Parliament. The number of mandates depends on the population of the respective states, whereby smaller states are favored. For example, Malta, a country with about 433,000 inhabitants, has six MEPs, so that each of these parliamentarians represents about 72,000 Maltese. By comparison, a German MEP has about 865,000 citizens.

As the United Kingdom will now take part in the European elections, another 73 MEPs will be recruited to the European Parliament at the beginning of the legislature. Should the country as planned in October the EU 27 British seats are distributed to 14 under-represented member states – but the number of German parliamentarians would not change. The remaining British mandates fall away, so that would reduce the size of Parliament to 705 MPs.

How is chosen?

The European elections are a purely proportional choice. Unlike in federal or state elections, each voter has only one vote, with which one of the leading parties is elected. Depending on election result, each party will have a proportionate number of seats in Parliament. These mandates will be distributed to the candidates listed on the list after the final result has been announced, and the order will be determined there. Thus, if one party receives three mandates, the first three candidates of the respective list enter the parliament.

Another difference to national elections: In European elections there is no restriction clause in Germany. The Federal Constitutional Court had repeatedly declared such a hurdle unconstitutional. For this reason, in the current parliament, parties such as the ecologically conservative ODP, the party of satirist Martin Sonneborn or the right-wing extremist NPD, each with one deputy represented.

Nevertheless, there is a de facto blocking clause of about 0.5% of the votes cast, since only this proportion is sufficient for one party to mathematically play one of the 96 German mandates in the European Parliament. At the last European election this corresponded to about 150,000 votes. However, at the next election in 2024, following a decision by the European Parliament, there will again be a threshold between two and five percent. The exact implementation of this requirement is the responsibility of the Bundestag.

What do the polls say?

Current surveys see the Union in the lead – with its nearly 28 percent a minus of about seven percentage points compared to the previous European elections in 2014 (35.3 percent) would be equal. Things are even worse for the Social Democrats: they predict a loss of more than ten percentage points (27.3 percent in 2014). The second strongest force would be the Greens, which is forecast to have seven more seats (10.7 percent in 2014). According to the survey, while the left would achieve the same result as in 2014 (7.4 percent), FDP (2014: 3.4 percent) and AfD (2014: 7.1 percent) could record slight increases.

When can results be expected?

As with other elections, there will be first projections on Sunday from 18 clock. The provisional official election result, which reflects the votes actually counted, will probably be published by the Federal Returning Officer on the same evening. The determination of the final election result is expected for the 24th of June. In order to allow an unbiased choice for all EU citizens, the results for those countries that vote before Sunday may not be announced until Sunday evening.

How is the result determined?

Converted into parliamentary seats, the votes are after calculation method in this case, the votes cast for all parties are shared by a common divisor. The result for the individual parties is then rounded to a seat number according to a uniform procedure. Elementary is that the divisor is chosen so that the sum of the calculated seats corresponds to the total number of mandates to be awarded.

This happens in the European elections via the so-called “iterative process”. First, a provisional allocation divisor is calculated by dividing the total number of votes cast by the mandates to be awarded. This divisor is then increased or decreased until the calculated seats match the actual mandates to be filled.

Read also: European elections begin in Britain and the Netherlands

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