Specific Rules

In spite of some common rules the European elections are typified by a certain number of rules which are specific to each country.

Eligibility Rules

To be able to vote in the European elections the criteria of residency has to be respected first and foremost and this rule varies from country to country. It means that the citizen has to be registered on the population records or on the electoral roll; that his main domicile is in the country where he/she votes and that he/she has been living there for a minimum amount of time or on a permanent basis.

Some Member States only grant European election voting rights to their citizens who live in a Union State, whilst others grant all of their citizens the right to vote where ever they live in the world.

Eligibility rules also vary from one country to another: the minimum required age varies between 18 and 25 and the required time of residence is also variable.
Since 1979 more and more women sit in the European Parliament; this is not just due to the fact that men prefer to invest in a national political career but also that some countries have adopted laws that make it obligatory to have a minimum representation of women on European lists.
Although there are common rules with regard to holding concurrent mandates each country also has specific incompatibility rules with regard to holding several political and also university, military and even economic positions.

Election Methods

Although in a majority of countries it is not obligatory to vote, in some countries citizens do have to vote.
The organisation of the electoral constituencies also varies from one State to another. There may be one single constituency nationally; there may be regional and even mixed constituencies (lists put together on a regional or national level).
Although since 1999 all Member States vote according to a proportional voting system there are many variations. Voting can be preferential; it can involve closed or mixed lists and even be a single transferable vote.

• Preferential Vote
Voters can modify the order of the candidates on the list according to their voting preference.

• The Closed List Vote
Voters select a list that cannot be changed.

• Mixed List Voting
Voters can choose different candidates from several lists.

• The Single Transferable Vote
The voter indicates his/her first choice then his/her secondary etc… If the first candidate is not elected the vote is transferred to the second choice.

The minimum threshold to be elected varies between 3% and 5%. The attribution of seats is undertaken according to various methods: the d’Hondt Method, the Sainte-Laguë Method, the quotas and remainders method; the Hagenbach-Bischoff Method.
The European Elections do not take place on the same day across the entire Union. They are taking place between 23rd and 26th May 2019; they will take place on one or over several days.
The standardisation of the electoral procedure features in article 138 of the 1957 Rome Treaty but has never been accepted by the European Council (a majority vote by the Parliament and a unanimous vote by the Council are vital for the adoption of a uniform mode of voting). Only one feature is common to the European elections: since 1999, they take place according to a proportional list system.

However, the day of the vote, the number of constituencies, the threshold of access to list representation and the vote distribution system differ from one Member State to another. The table and notes below summarise the main electoral rules in force amongst the 27 countries taking part in the elections from 23rd to 26th May next.

→ For a better understanding of the specific electoral rules in each Member State, click here.
Member StateDeadline for deposit of listsDeadline for registration the electoral rollsCampaign start dateNo.of constituenciesVoting methodMethjods for the attribution of seatsMinimum eligibility ageElection date
Austria1Preferential voteD’Hondt Method18 years26 May
Belgium4Preferential voteD’Hondt Method21 years26 May
Bulgaria1Preferential vote21 years26 May
Croatia1Preferential vote18 years26 May
Cyprus1Preferential vote25 years26 May
Czech Republic1D’Hondt Method24-25 May
Denmark1Preferential voteD’Hondt Method18 years26 May
Estonia1D’Hondt Method21 years26 May
Finland1Preferential voteD’Hondt Method18 years26 May
France8Closed listD’Hondt Method23 years26 May
Germany1Closed listSainte-Laguë/
Shepers Method
18 years26 May
Greece1Closed list25 years26 May
Hungary1D’Hondt Method18 years26 May
IrelandSingle transferable
vote
First past the
post prefe
-
rential with
vote transfer
(VUT- Droop’s
Quotient).
21 years24 May
ItalyPreferential voteWhole shares
and highest
remainder
25 years26 May
Latvia125 May
Lithuania126 May
Luxembourg1Mixed list voting18 years26 May
Malta1Single transferable
vote
First past the
post prefe
-
rential vote
with transfer
(VUT- Droop’s
quotient).
18 years25 May
Netherlands1Preferential voteD’Hondt Method18 years23 May
Poland121 years26 May
Portugal1Closed listD’Hondt Method18 years26 May
Romania1D’Hondt Method23 years26 May
Slovakia121 years25 May
Slovenia1D’Hondt Method18 years26 May
Spain1Closed listD’Hondt Method18 years26 May
Sweden1Preferential vote18 years26 May

Countries where it is obligatory to vote

Belgium, Cyprus (no sanction), Greece (no sanction), Luxembourg (except for the 75’s and over).

Voters

In Austria and Malta, the right to vote is set at 16 years of age.

Other elections

Six Member States will be voting on other issues on the same day as the European elections.

Germany: Regional elections and local by-elections in Bremen
Belgium: Federal (House of representatives and Senate) and regional elections

Spain: Local and regional by-elections

Greece: Local elections

Ireland: Local elections and probably a referendum on the extension of voting rights in the presidential elections to Irish citizens living outside of the State/referendum on the place of women in the home.

Malta: Local elections

Candidates

In France, the lists must include twice the number of candidates as there are seats available.

In Romania each list must include 10 candidates more than the number of seats available.

Distribution of Seats

Germany and Italy have systems in which the national and administrative regions are mixed (candidate lists can be put together at regional or national level).

Special electoral measures

Belgium: Male/female parity on the lists. In addition to this the two leading candidates on each list cannot be of the same sex.

Spain: The lists cannot include more than 60% of the same sex

France: Male/female parity (lists must comprise alternately a candidate of each sex).

Italy: The lists must include at least one third of the least represented sex.

Portugal: Each list must include at least one third of women.

Slovenia: The lists cannot include more than 60% of candidates of the same sex. Each list must include a representative of each sex in an eligible position.

POLITICAL INCOMPATIBILITY OF BEING AN MEP

Austria: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP.
Belgium: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP, member of a council (of a community, a region or a province) or the mandate of mayor of a town with over 50,000 inhabitants.Bulgaria: None.

Cyprus: Yes, with the mandate of mayor and town councillor.

Czech Republic: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP.

Denmark: Yes, with the mandate of national MP and town councillor.

Estonia: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

France: Yes, with the mandate of Regional Councillor, Councillor in the Corsican Assembly, General Councillor, Paris Councillor or town councillor in a community with at least 3,500 inhabitants.

Finland: None.

Germany: None.

Greece: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Hungary: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Ireland: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP.

Italy: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP, president of a region or province, regional council or mayor of a town with over 15,000 inhabitants.

Latvia: Yes, with the mandate of national MP and town councillor.

Lithuania: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Luxembourg: None.

Malta: Yes, with the mandate of national MP and town councillor.

Netherlands: None.

Poland: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP.

Portugal: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Romania: Yes, with the mandate of national Senator or MP.

Slovakia: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Slovenia: Yes, with the mandate of national MP.

Spain: Yes, with the mandate of national MP and town councillor.

Sweden: None