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Uniform electoral procedure for the European Parliament

In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty inserted a provision into the EC Treaty (Article 190 paragraph 4, now Article 223 TFEU) stating that elections must be held in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States. The Council, however, was unable to agree on a uniform procedure, in spite of Parliament presenting various proposals.

To resolve the deadlock, the Treaty of Amsterdam introduced into the EC Treaty the possibility, failing a uniform procedure, of �common principles�. After a number of debates and disagreements, the Council and the Parliament finally agreed on four points which harmonise the electoral process in European elections:

  • the uniform voting method is proportional representation using a list, or a single, transferable vote (Ireland only);
  • the vote can be preferential;
  • the different (national or regional) constituencies may remain unchanged as long as they do not impede proportional representation. Regional constituencies should be established at a later date in States with a population of over 20 million;
  • the minimum threshold for obtaining a seat in the Parliament is 5% of votes cast.

Most of the rules concerning voting and elections remain distinct, in particular concerning the dates of elections, constituencies, the application of proportional representation, the number of mandates that may be held concurrently, voting and eligibility conditions and boosting equality. In terms of electoral constituencies, the majority of Member States have adopted the system of a single constituency, whereby the whole country forms one constituency. The other Member States have a number of constituencies: Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Poland and France.

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