Why should you vote? What does the Parliament do? Who's standing? These are just some of the questions we answer below
1. When are the elections?
Here in Spain, and most of the other participating countries (of which there are 27 altogether, the member nations of the EU), the vote is on Sunday 7th June. However, different countries can hold the vote on the day of week that they traditionally hold elections; as such, the UK will vote on Thursday 4th. The elections take place every five years.
2. How many MEPs are being elected?
A grand total of 785. Each country has MEPs in proportion to their electorate size: Germany has the most with 99 MEPs while Malta has just five. Spain has 54 representatives in the European Parliament; of these nine come from Catalunya. Unlike in some other countries which are broken up into large constituencies, Spain has a single constituency, so it is possible that in these elections Catalunya will end up having less MEPs.
3. Which parties can I vote for?
As with most Spanish elections, there are a great number of parties fielding candidates, although only a few of them have a realistic chance of success. They are the same parties as dominate in national and Catalan politics:
Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and the Catalan equivalent, the Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya (PSC)
Partido Popular (PP)
Convergencia i Unió (CiU)
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC)
Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV)
The main candidates for the parties in these elections are as follows:
PSOE - Juan Fernando López Aguilar
PSC - Maria Badia
PP - Jaime Mayor Oreja
CiU - Ramon Tremosa
ERC - Oriol Junqueras
ICV - Raul Romeva
However, it’s important to note that in the European Parliament the politicians affiliate themselves with a Europe-wide party that reflect their political philosophies. For example, the main party in the European Parliament currently is the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats – EPP-ED – a gathering of mainly centre-right parties. The second largest party is the Socialist Group (PSE); there are eight such parties in total.
4. What does the European Parliament actually do?
It has a strange position. Unlike most parliaments, its members cannot create legislation. Instead, the main role of the European Parliament is to amend and pass, or not, the laws that come down to it from the European Commission – made up of 26 commissioners and the president (currently José Manuel Durao Barroso), one from each member state. The Parliament can demand the resignation of a commissioner and the whole Commission can be dismissed by the Parliament. However, while Parliament members cannot initiate European laws, they can lobby for the introduction of them.
5. Why should I vote?
The European Parliament is the only directly elected body of the European Union, so it’s a key opportunity to contribute to democracy in Europe; in the same way as voting in any other election. More practically, it’s estimated that 70 to 80% of the legislation that is passed in the Spanish parliament is based on European directives, so what is decided in Brussels has a significant trickle-down effect on the laws governing day-to-day life here. Furthermore, as foreigners can’t vote in the general elections here, voting in the European elections is currently the closest you can arguably get to determing the political landscape of Spain; foreigners can vote in the town council elections but this clearly has a much more localised impact.
6. How does the voting process work?
When you go to the polling station, you will find a table with piles of papers on it. Each pile has the list of candidates from the different parties represented. You need to select one paper for the party you wish to vote for and put it in one of the envelopes provided. Then find your voting table (indicated on your voting card) – you will probably have to queue. When it’s your turn, show your voting card and ID, then place your envelope in the box.
If you are already on the electoral roll, you will by now have received your voting card (targeta electoral). If not, then you have five years until the next election to get on the list by going to your local town hall and registering (empadronar-se)—see 'Getting registered' in Related content