Preparation for the European elections 2024

IF – 04/2022

The European Parliament's Constitutional Affairs Committee voted in March on reforms of the European electoral law. With a view to the next European elections in 2024, MEPs want to spare themselves an embarrassing failure like the last European elections in 2019. This is because the much-touted leading candidate principle, i.e. nominating one person per parliamentary group, was not adhered to at the time. Instead of the actual leading candidate of the conservatives, Manfred Weber (EPP), the then defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen (EPP) surprisingly became president of the European Commission.

At the time, this led to indignation among all parties and did not please the heads of state and government either. Legally, there was also no way of enforcing the leading candidate principle at the time, as this was a shoulder-to-shoulder agreement between all parties.

Election process wish list

In order to prepare for the future of the EU and the electoral process, the European Parliament has tackled the electoral law. Here, too, it must be noted that half of the parliamentary term has already elapsed. Therefore, the elections to the European Parliament should be more Europe-centred in all future ballots, at the request of the MEPs.

What does that mean exactly?

The Parliament's concern is the establishment of a new European electoral authority whose task would be to coordinate uniform deadlines, coordination across Member States and general counting of all votes cast. This objective is not new since a uniform election procedure has been laid down in the Treaties since 1957 (Art. 138 para. 3 EEC-O).

Lists of candidates from across the Member States

The citizens’ right to vote for 28 candidates from a pan-European constituency is exceptional. These do not belong to any national constituency but represent the entire European Union. In addition, all lists of candidates shall be determined on a gender parity basis using the zip system. Currently, there are various deadlines spanning 17 to 83 days for the completion of the lists of candidates. There is a clear need for action here to create a common framework.

More efficient with electronic voting

In order to increase overall voter turnout, one important incentive would be to make electronic voting available throughout Europe as quickly as possible. The necessary data protection standards would be controlled by the newly established European electoral authority. In addition, MEPs are calling for Election Day to always be 9 May, Europe Day, and to be reserved as a public holiday across Europe. With a majority vote in the Constitutional Affairs Committee, MEPs would likely vote on the issue in the European Parliament's May plenary session.