EPRS Admin By / September 7, 2018

Number of MEPs and voting system

Number of MEPs and voting system

Number of MEPs and voting system

The EP currently has 751 MEPs (the maximum possible under Article 14(2) TEU). Following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, some of the seats now held by Members elected in the UK will be redistributed among Member States, and the overall total number of seats reduced to 705.

MEPs are elected according to national electoral systems, but these have to observe certain common provisions established by EU law such as proportional representation. As a general rule, voters can choose between political parties, individual candidates or both. While in some Member States, voters can only vote for a list, without the possibility to change the order of candidates on the list (closed list), in other Member States voters can express their preference for one or more of the candidates (preferential voting). Depending on the degree of freedom voters enjoy when casting their preferential vote, one can distinguish between semi-open lists, where voters can change the position of one or all candidates on a single chosen list, and open lists, where voters can vote for candidates from different lists. Instead of a list system, some Member States use the single transferable vote (STV). Under this system, the voter has one vote but can rank the candidates in order of their first, second, third, etc. choice. To be elected, a candidate needs to receive a minimum number of votes.

Whilst in the majority of Member States the national territory forms a single electoral constituency for the European elections, certain Member States have divided their territories into multiple constituencies. These are: BE, IE, IT, PL.
NB: In France, on 3 January 2018 the government approved a reform to create a single electoral constituency. The Assemblée nationale voted in favour of the reform on 14 May. However, on 24 May 2018, 61 French MPs appealed to the Conseil constitutionnel against the act instituting the change (the court’s decision is still pending).

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