What: Since 1979, citizens from every country in the European Union (EU) have the right to choose lawmakers to represent them at the European Parliament. This is EU’s legislative body and its only directly represented chamber.
This year’s vote will take place from May 23 to May 26. There are usually 751 MEP’s (Members of the European Parliament). They are mostly made up of lawmakers that are associated with established political parties in each member state. These MEP’s can also join cross-border political factions according to their political stance.
- New European Parliament President – currently Antonio Tajani
- New European Commission President – currently Jean-Claude Juncker
- New Head of the European Countries – Frank-Walter Steinmeyer – President of Germany, Angela Merkel – Chancellor of Germany
- New President of the European Central Bank – currently Mario Draghi
The vote usually happens every 5 years and would normally be held on June 9, but many states objected, as this took place during the Pentecost holiday weekend.
Britain, thanks to Brexit, will lose its 73 seats in the chamber, with out 1/3 of them reallocated to other countries. There are 28 nations in Europe that belong to the European Union – Germany, France, Italy, Belgium Luxembourg and the Netherlands were the original countries in 1957. Then Denmark, Ireland and the UK joined in 1973. Greece joined in 1981. Spain and Portugal joined in 1986 and Austria, Finland and Sweden in 1995. In 2004, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined. Finally Croatia joined in 2013 – totals were 28, but Brexit might make the final tally 27.
According to the “Europe Parliament” website “The European elections in May 2019 will have a direct impact on your life. They will decide how Europe will act in the coming years to address your concerns about jobs, business, security, migration and climate change.”
EP Conference of Presidents
The Conference of Presidents (CoP) – composed of the Parliament’s President and the chairs of its eight political groups – sets the agenda of the plenary and determines the general political orientations of the institution. The table below shows the current members of the CoP, ordered by size of the groups, in terms of their seats in Parliament. Three groups have co-chairs. The non-attached (NI) Members are represented by a non-voting observer.
Current Membership of the European Council October 2018
What are the three main “party families” according to Carnegie Europe?
- Center-Right – European People’s Party (219 MEP’s) – Christian democrats and conservative parties (except the UK conservatives)
- Center-Left – Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (189 MEP’S)
- Smaller mainstream parties – a. European Conservatives & Reformists (71 MEP’s), b. The Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe (68 Mep’s), c. The European United Left/Nordic Green Left (52 Mep’s), d. The European Greens/Euoprean Free Alliance (51 Mep’s).
- Far-right Parties – Europe of Freedom & Direct Democracy (45 MEP’s) and Europe of Nations & Freedom (35 MEP’s)
What are the main issues in 2019?
- Many voters are abandoning traditional mainstream parties
- Societies are more fluid and people are more mobile
- Media coverage of political developments in many countries have declined
- Social media made links between representatives and those who are being represented weaker, which also diminishes trust
- Since 2008, Europeans have experienced a financial and economic crisis that divided members
- A migration crisis damanaged voter’s confidences in political elites
- More voters are putting their faith in anti-establishment parties that promise change
The 2019 election campaign will likely become a debate on Europe’s priorities.
The leader of the Italian League party, Matteo Salvini, told a rally in 2018, “The European elections next year will be a referendum between the Europe of the elites, of banks, of finance, of immigration and precarious work; and the Europe of people and labour.”