So… we established two weeks ago that you should go and vote for the upcoming European elections (at least if you’re able to, that is, sorry to all those non-EU readers!). We’ve also established who, in my humble opinion, you should definitely not vote for. But then who DO you vote for? Of course, I’m not going to tell you which specific party is the best, because as obvious as it is that the party I’m voting for is far superior, I doubt everyone will agree. What I can tell you, however, is how this election works, and who your vote will actually go to when you vote for a local party*.
First things first: between the 22nd and 25th of May, 750 parliamentary seats will be up for grabs. These are allocated separately for each country, so each country has a specific amount of seats that can be voted for. This ranges all the way from 6 to 96 seats, for the greatest part based on the population of the member states (check out the image below to see how many seats your country is voting for). This is already the first thing that makes it very different from your usual elections: for most countries the amount of seats at stake is extremely low. In countries with small parties, this means that those parties that usually get 1 or 2% of the votes, will now end up empty-handed because there are so few seats to be competed for.
Speaking of political parties: that too isn’t as straight-forward as it seems. As you might have noticed by now, each political party in your own country is doing what it usually does: trying to collect votes for a political party that only exists in your own country, as if they will represent that particular party in parliament. But that isn’t quite how it works. Instead, these domestic parties will have alliances with parties from other countries, and together they will represent one and the same “European” party. That’s a lot of talk about parties, but even though they’re probably a lot more boring than the usual parties you hear about, they are no less important!
What it means is that if you vote for your local party, your vote will actually go to a much bigger party in Europe, which might have a rather different stance on issues than you do. Sure, the local politician you vote for can have an influence on this, but it would not be so bad to look up which European party the local party you want to vote for is a member of. There are eight of these parties, and the easiest way to find this out is through Wikipedia. Follow this link, and in the top right corner you will see 5 pictures surrounded by the 8 European parties. Click on the names of these parties (for instance “EPP” or “Left“), and if you scroll down, you’ll find a list of the local parties that are a member of that particular European party. You’ll also find plenty of info on what they stand for! (alternatively, you can find the parties here as well). Interestingly enough, you’ll occasionally find rival parties from one country representing the same European party.
There’s one last thing I’d like to mention before I leave you to do the actual voting: as much as tactical voting might be a bad thing, it is of particular importance for the EU elections. A party in Luxembourg that is polled at 5% of the votes is not going to win a seat in the parliament, so in those cases, it might just be wiser to vote for a larger party that you also more or less agree with. This is purely subjective, and not everyone will agree with this sentiment, but I feel like it is an important thing to keep in mind. Whether you agree is something you can decide for yourself!
Be sure to check out on which dates your country is voting (you can do that here), and feel free to leave any questions you might have down in the comments!
*Not every country uses the exact same voting system, but this “guide” should apply to all, even countries using constituencies. On the basic, level, these countries are slightly different, but on the whole it leads to the same thing.
This post is a day late, but I don’t know what happened, I thought I had scheduled it but it never popped up. Sorry about that!
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See you next Monday!
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