It comes as no surprise that this week our blog will focus on the European elections. However, to take a slightly different angle on this hot topic, the EPRS Historical Archives have prepared a number of posts based on the elections of the past.
The elections next week will be only the 8th since the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community Common Assembly in 1952. This is because the first direct elections were not held until 1979. Our post on the history of direct elections explains why, when the need for citizens to have a say in the future of Europe was agreed from the very beginning of the project, it took so long to hold direct elections to the European Parliament.
There were some very interesting personalities elected at these very first direct elections, not least Simone Veil, chosen to run for the UDF and a great champion of gender equality. Our post on her election describes how, against all the odds, she became the EP’s first President elected in direct elections. Another well-known personality elected in 1979 was that of Lord Plumb, who later became the EP’s 4th President. Lord Plumb was very active in the debate on the Single European Act, relations with the then Soviet Union and the Palestinian Conflict, and a fervent supporter of human rights. Read more about these personalities in our posts by the Historical Archives, providing access to documents and images.
Elections were not the only requirement for Europe to be recognised as an important player on the political scene. In the 1960s it was considered that a recognisable symbol was required and discussion began on the flag. Our post outlines the very formal procedure undertaken to come to the blue flag with gold stars that we all recognise today.
Additionally, the European Parliament needed a home. The first hemicycle of the European Parliament actually pre-dates direct elections, as it was installed in Luxembourg in 1973. Still in use as a meeting room today, our post provides a useful description of the development of the room.
We hope that our Elections Week will shed some light on the elections of the past. It is brought to you by the Historical Archives of the European Parliament, who hold a fascinating collection of original documents, digital records, pictures, posters and audio and video records illustrating the role of the European Parliament since 1952. The Historical Archives are also open to the public.
And let’s not forget the elections of the future… we’ll be featuring elections for a couple weeks more, also on other media #EP2014.