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Everything you need to know before the European Parliament elections

The forthcoming European Parliament (EP) elections are set to take place from 6 to 9 June 2024, marking the tenth parliamentary election since direct elections were first introduced in the EU in 1979. This election carries particular significance as it's the first European Parliament election post-Brexit. However, within this historical context, there are several key aspects and considerations to bear in mind.
In this article, we will address the following questions:

  • When are the next European elections and how frequently do they occur?
  • What is the minimum voting age?
  • Do many people participate in European elections?

When are the next European elections and how frequently do they occur?

The elections, held every five years, will result in the appointment of 720 Members of the European Parliament, with adjustments made to accommodate demographic changes in various member states. The voting process will adhere to the electoral rules of each member state, with voters selecting their representatives through different types of lists, including open, semi-open, and closed lists.

The voting period will span from June 6 to June 9, with various countries holding their elections on different days within this timeframe. The voting will commence in the Netherlands on 6 June, followed by Ireland on 7 June. Subsequently, on 8 June, citizens of Latvia, Malta, and Slovakia will head to the polling stations, while the rest of the EU countries will vote on Sunday, 9 June. Italy and the Czech Republic will hold their votes on consecutive days, on 8-9 June for the former and 7-8 June for the latter.

What is the minimum voting age?

The minimum voting age varies across member states, with some countries allowing individuals as young as 16 to cast their ballots. Additionally, the eligibility criteria for candidates also differ, ranging from 18 to 25 years of age. Voting is mandatory only in Belgium, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, and Greece; however, this rule has not been strictly enforced and has not led to higher voter turnout compared to other countries.

Do many people participate in European elections?

One of the pressing issues facing European Parliament elections is low voter turnout. While efforts have been made to engage younger demographics, such as Gen Z and millennials, and the latest EU elections in 2019 saw an increase in the number of young voters, there is still a long way to go to improve overall participation rates. Although voting is mandatory in only a few member states, it's highly recommended for all citizens to ensure their voices are heard in shaping the future of the EU.

Efforts have been underway to reform the electoral system within the EU. Some of the proposals include a compulsory 2% threshold for countries with more than 35 seats and rules to prevent individuals from voting in multiple countries. However, despite agreements made in 2018 to amend electoral laws, not all member states have ratified these changes. As of now, there are ongoing discussions, including proposals for transnational lists, although these reforms have yet to be approved by the Council.

In conclusion, the 2024 European Parliament elections hold significant implications for the future of the European Union. With ongoing challenges and efforts to reform the electoral process, it's crucial for citizens to stay informed and actively participate in the democratic process to have their voices represented effectively.

In an effort to assist citizens in making an informed choice in the EP elections, the EUI has developed the EU&I - a Voting Advice Application (VAA) which matches the voter’s preferences to the positions of parties in their country, as well as across Europe. It guides citizens in finding the party that best corresponds to their views.