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.

  • 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 will not take place on the same day across the entire Union. They took place between 4th and 7th June 2009; they will take place on one or over several days.

For a better understanding of the specific electoral rules in each Member State, click here.