Home News 2024 EU elections: What you need to know

2024 EU elections: What you need to know

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Hundreds of millions of voters in all 27 EU countries will go to the polls from June 6 to 9 to elect their representatives in the European Parliament, the EU’s only directly elected body.

The European Union is one of the world’s most ambitious political experiments, but due to its complex governance structure, it is often criticized for a lack of transparency and democratic accountability. European Parliament elections, held every five years, are the only way for EU citizens to have a direct say in shaping EU policy.

Voters have been electing lawmakers to the body since 1979, when the union was much smaller. This year, more than 330 million Europeans are eligible to elect 720 parliamentarians.

The results will shape EU policy over the next five years, but they also provide a rare and important check on political sentiment across Europe. They could even trigger political unrest in individual countries, especially if the ruling party takes a heavy hit in the EU polls.

In a significant departure from most European legislative bodies, the European Parliament does not have the power to initiate laws, which many see as a key limit to its power.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, drafts legislation for the EU and Parliament can veto the bill, which still gives it significant influence. It also approves international agreements, approves the EU budget drafted by the Commission, and oversees other EU institutions by reviewing their outputs and budgets. Its members elect their own president and have the final say in approving the president of the European Commission.

There are signs that Europeans want parliament to be more vocal: In the 2019 elections, turnout was higher than in previous years, and 63% of Europeans said They want their bodies to play a more important role.

Each member state has made its own arrangements for the election, but most have scheduled the vote for Sunday, June 9.

The details of election administration are determined by local authorities, so there are some differences between countries. For example, this is the first EU election in which Greeks can vote by postal ballot, but not all Europeans have that option.

Each country elects a certain number of members of parliament based on the size of its population. Germany, the EU’s most populous country, will elect 96 of the 720 representatives in this vote; Malta, the EU’s least populous country, has just six.

Importantly, each country selects members of the European Parliament according to its national electoral system.

Candidates campaign through their national party affiliations, but once elected they often choose to join a European Parliament “family” or group, which largely mirrors the politics of their parent party.

The European People’s Party, currently the largest conservative party in parliament, is expected to maintain its lead. The poll also predicts a surge in membership of the nationalist right and far right, who may even take a quarter of the 17% of seats they currently control.

The second largest group is the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which includes social democrats from across the EU

Next is Renewal, a pro-European liberal group that shares political positions with conservatives and socialists, followed by the Greens. Two smaller but rising far-right parties – which include anti-immigration, anti-EU and nativist representatives – are the European Conservatives and Reform Party and the Identity and Democratic Party. The smallest force in parliament today is the left, which gathers members of the far left.

Results will be broadcast and parsed in real time across EU countries, but all results will be aggregated and published by the European Parliament itself here.

The first signs should come between June 9 and 10, as actual votes are counted in countries holding elections on June 9. The results will become apparent in a handful of voting countries immediately after polls close on Sunday. June 6th, 7th and 8th will also be open to the public. But the clearest picture of how the election will unfold will come on the evening of June 9.

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