Voters in all 28 member states of the European Union are now going to the polls May 22-25, 2014, to elect representatives to the 751-seat European Parliament. It is one of the largest democratic events in the world, and over 413 million European citizens are having the opportunity to influence the future of the EU.
Elections to the European Parliament take place every five years and, while other EU institutions are legitimated indirectly, the European Parliament is directly elected by universal adult suffrage. From May 22 to 25, Europeans will choose 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEP), whose seats are allocated proportionally to the population of the countries. For instance, Italy is to choose 73 MEPs while 8 seats are allocated to Slovenia.
What Does Dianova Have to Do with these Elections?
The organization Dianova has no political or religious affiliation whatsoever. Dianova represents a nonpartisan, independent network of organizations. However, we do have strong principles and values. We believe in human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights, all of which being the core values of the European Union, as set out at the beginning of the Treaty of Lisbon, which forms the constitutional basis of the EU.
Why Do the European Parliament Elections Matter?
More than 80 percent of the decisions taken in Brussels have a direct impact in European people's lives and most of the decisions made by national parliaments are influenced or constrained by EU decisions.
The upcoming elections are to take place in a period of profound political and economic turmoil. They will shape EU politics for the next five years and the results will determine the answers to such questions as:
- Should austerity policies be abandoned or maintained?
- Will solidarity, tolerance and democratic vlaues expand or shrink
- How can the EU be made more robust and more sustainable?
In addition, since 2009 elections, the European Parliament has gained importance among European institutions and for the first time the outcomes of the upcoming elections will determine the next president of the European Commission, providing a major change in EU's institutional framework
Europeans Can Vote for a More Open Society!
The European elections are an opportunity to increase political participation and representation. Currently, only 35 percent of MEPs are female, while women make up 52 percent of society; only 126 MEPs, out of 751, are under the age of 40 and only 15 MEPs have ethnic minority backgrounds.
The participation of young people is also a challenge: in last elections, only 29 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds voted while half of those over 55 did. Turnout at European Parliament elections has strongly declined at each election weakening the democratic legitimacy of the EU.