EPRSauthor By / March 13, 2014

European electoral reform – no change to the status quo

This EPRS Keysource has been created in June 2011 and last updated in March 2014 The Treaty on European Union…

© Atlantis / Fotolia

This EPRS Keysource has been created in June 2011 and last updated in March 2014

European electoral reform – no change to the status quo
© Atlantis / Fotolia

The Treaty on European Union contains a mandate for the European Parliament to put forward a proposal for a uniform procedure for European elections or an electoral procedure in accordance with principles common to all Member States. Parliament has continuously made efforts to increase ‘harmonisation’ of electoral rules for the EP elections, beyond those enshrined in the 1976 Act (as amended in 2002).

A 2011 own-initiative report prepared by Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs (rapporteur Andrew Duff MEP, ALDE, UK) sought to amend the 1976 Direct Elections Act to introduce inter alia pan-European lists of candidates to be elected in a single constituency formed of the whole territory of the European Union. The report was referred by plenary for further consideration back to the Committee and a second amended report was tabled. However, so far the divergent constitutional and electoral traditions of the Member States (MS) have prevented any agreement, so that the procedure for European elections is still governed to a great extent by the national electoral rules of the Member States.

Progress was only made regarding the formalities to be met by Union citizens wishing to vote or stand as candidates in the European elections in a Member State of which they are not nationals (Consolidated version of Council Directive 93/109/EC).

Moreover, in view of the upcoming elections, Parliament adopted an initiative report on improving the practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014 (2013/2102(INL).


European Parliament: Official website of the 2014 EU elections

Tag: European elections – EuroActiv website providing news on the topic

2014 elections: “A real choice between people and parties and ideas”, EP Press Service, 25 June 2013

European elections to become more European, EP Press Service, 29 May 2013

Make European elections more European, says Constitutional Affairs Committee, EP Press Service, 28 May 2013

European elections should determine make-up of next European Commission/ Andrew Duff, 22 November 2012

2014 elections: give European voters bigger say on Commission, say MEPs, EP Press Service, 22 November 2012

Why do MEPs fear electoral reform? / Andrew Duff, EUobserver, 14 March 2012

EP electoral reform: Duff report sent back to the Committee / Europolitics, 8 July 2011.
A short summary on the EP electoral reform proposal.

“A big step forward for a United European Democracy”: Duff on electoral reform / EP Press Service, 19 April 2011.


European Parliament elections in times of crisis / Francis Jacobs, Yves Bertoncini, Valentin Kreilinger, Stijn Kessel, Andrea L. P. Pirro, Simon Otjes, Sonia Piedrafita, Vilde Renman, Intereconomics – Review of European Economic Policy, 01 February 2014, vol. 49, issue 1, p. 4-29.
This Forum examines possible nature of the campaign and potential outcome of upcoming European elections.

What if Europe Held an Election and No One Cared? / David Schleicher, Harvard International Law Journal, Vol 52, No 1, Winter 2011, 54 p.
This article analyses the problems related to European elections and how they affect the institutional goals to increase the power of the European Parliament. It explores existing conflict between reform of the elections and separation of powers in the EU from various authors point of view, claiming that European elections are not truly European but national instead. The author discusses existing mismatch between the institution role the EP is asked to play and citizens voice related to EU policies, laying out a proposal that problems can be solved with election law tools providing access to European rather than national approach of the European elections allowing express preferences about EU policy.

Future European Parliament Elections: Ten Steps Towards Uniform Procedures / Kai-Friederike Oelbermann, Friedrich Pukelsheim, In: Zeitschrift fur Staats und Europawissenschaften, 2011, Jahrg. 9, n. 1, p. 9-28.
“Ten procedural steps for the European Parliament elections are proposed so as to achieve more uniformity among the national electoral provisions of the 27 Member States. The steps include the creation of a European Electoral Authority, the enhancement of the European party system, and the consolidation of the many diverse seat apportionment methods into the single divisor method with standard rounding (Webster/Sainte- Laguë). The introduction of semi-open list systems is addressed, as is the formation of a single European constituency for the election of an additional 25 MEPs. In the long run, the translation of votes into seats could be carried out using the biproportional variant of the divisor method with standard rounding, in order to better mirror the structure of the European Union.”

EP electoral reform: a question of trade-offs / Corina Stratulat, Janis A. Emmanouilidis, European Policy Centre (EPC), Policy brief, February 2011, 4 p.
In this policy brief the authors analyse proposals for electoral reform brought forward by the EP.

Electoral Representation at the European level and its Institutional Design: A reappraisal of recent reform plans / Lehmann, Wilhelm, European University Institute (EUI), 2011, 38 p.
This essay analyses new approaches in the design of electoral rules and evaluates the functioning of European political parties in view of the construction of a transnational political community. See pages 14-17.

Recent advances towards veritable European political parties / Wilhelm Lehmann (European Parliament; EU Fellow 2010/11, RSCAS), Max Weber Programme Lustrum Conference, 8-10 June 2011, 15 p.
See chapter: Reforming the electoral procedure on pages 9-10.

Could Changing the Electoral Rules Fix European Parliament Elections? / Simon Hix and Sara Hagemann. In: Politique Europeenne, 2009, Vol. 28, p. 27-41.
This article sets out the authors views for the further development of the European Parliaments electoral system.

Stakeholder views

European Parliament too weak to reform European elections? / European Movement International, 13 March 2012
“For the third time, the European Parliament is postponing the plenary vote on the “Duff-Report” to reform the European elections and introduce transnational lists. With this bad signal, the hope for more European democracy and real ‘European’ elections is put into danger”, criticised Jo LEINEN, President of the European Movement International (EMI).

Better European Elections in 2014 with transnational European lists / European Movement International, 26 January 2012
“For the European Elections in 2014, citizens should have two votes. One for a national list of candidates and one for a transnational European list with candidates from all over Europe”, said Jo Leinen, President of the European Movement International, after the Constitutional Committee in the European Parliament approved the Duff-Report today. “The European Movement International highly welcomes this step forward to realize European Democracy.”

EP electoral system: Commission statement / EP Plenary session, Audiorecord, 07 July 2011.

RE: Your support for the creation of an EU-wide constituency? / JEF – A pan-European youth organisation, 2011.
An open letter was sent to all MEPs expressing support for the proposals. The letter is signed by several youth organisations, including JEF-Europe, European Democrat Students, European Young Socialists, Federation of Young European Greens, European Liberal Youth and the European Youth Forum.

Public opinions and infographics:

Infographic: 2014 European elections: national rules / Evarts Anosovs, Eva-Maria Poptcheva, Gulio Sabbati, Briefing, European Parliamentary Research Service, posted 06 November 2013, updated 10 February 2014, 2 p.
This Infographic looks at the forthcoming European elections, comparing key data for each Member State regarding election dates, voting systems and number of MEPs, voting from abroad possibilities, minimum age of candidates and electoral treshold.

Europe decides 2014: To the elections 2014 and beyond
This Infographic provides countdown to the elections 2014 and beyond.

Europe from left to right ahead of #EP2014
The EurActiv infographic provides an overview of the power balance in EU member states ahead of the European Parliament elections.

Electoral rights / Flash Eurobarometer 364, March 2013, 72 p.
This survey on European Union citizenship investigates the knowledge of citizens of the EU on their voting rights, opinions about voting rights for non-national EU citizens residing in other EU countries and ways to increase voter participation in EP elections.

One Year to Go Until the 2014 European Elections: European Parliament Eurobarometer, EB 79.5 / Directorate-General for Communication Public Opinion Monitoring Unit, European Parliament Eurobarometer EB79.5, 21 August 2013, 83 p.
This survey follows the Eurobarometer survey ‘Two years to go to the 2014 European elections’, EP/EB77.4 of June 2012, seeking to estimate Europeans’ opinion of the European elections 2014 and new procedure for electing the President of the European Commission.

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