European Parliament Elections: How Voting Takes Place And Why It Matters? | Explained

The European Parliament elections take place over a span of four days every five years in June. This year elections took place between June 6 and 9.
European Elections

European Elections (File image)

One of the world's largest democratic exercises is currently underway, with approximately 373 million people across the European Union eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections. Between June 6 and 9, voters in the EU's 27 member nations went to the polls to elect 720 members of parliament, who will significantly influence the bloc's priorities and political direction for the next five years. This election occurs at a critical time for the EU, which is dealing with issues such as the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, immigration, and climate change. Polls have indicated substantial gains for hard-right parties in several countries, potentially leading to long-term impacts on the continent.
How Do the Elections Work?
The European Parliament elections take place over a span of four days every five years in June. This year elections took place between June 6 and 9. Despite being elections to an EU institution, they are arranged and managed as national ballots by each of the EU’s 27 member states. Consequently, the elections are not all carried out in the same way but must employ a proportional representation system. This means the number of lawmakers elected to the parliament correlates directly with the percentage of votes each party receives.
Once all the votes have been counted, each national political party is assigned a number of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) relative to their vote share. Member states determine how this assignment is done. After their appointment, MEPs can join a European political party, allowing them to sit in a group in the parliament. These multinational parties and groupings are based on shared beliefs, and the larger the grouping, the more influence it has in parliament.
Purpose of the European Parliament and the Role of MEPs:
The European Parliament, primarily located in Brussels, Belgium, but moving once a month to Strasbourg, France, is the legislative branch of the EU. It is one of the bloc’s three main institutions, alongside the European Commission (the executive branch) and the European Council (composed of ministers from the governments of the 27 member states). It is the sole EU institution where representatives are directly elected.
MEPs create laws that apply throughout the bloc, with both the council and parliament needing to approve any legislation before it can be enacted. The parliament plays a crucial role in approving the makeup of the commission, which is responsible for the political direction of the EU. It has the final say on appointing the president of the commission, a role currently filled by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, who seeks a second term.
Additionally, the parliament has ultimate approval over the EU budget, often holding the final word on major policy issues like trade and sanctions. It can also influence major international agreements, exemplified by its stance on the EU-China comprehensive mutual investment agreement, which is on hold due to sanctions on some MEPs.
How Important Is the European Parliament?
As the only EU institution directly elected by voters across 27 countries, the European Parliament connects European citizens to the EU's executive branch (the European Commission) and the Council (ministers from EU governments). The parliament shapes the direction of EU laws and policies, endorses the EU's annual budget, and requests the Commission to propose legislation. MEPs oversee the work of the Commission and Council, sharing responsibility with the Council for adopting laws proposed by the Commission. Most MEPs sit in political groups ranging from left to right, often balancing allegiances to both party and country.
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