May 23, 2019

Luxembourg - Je peux voter / This time I'm voting - European Elections May 2019

As Europe has already started the voting process for the 2019 European Elections, I come to you with a post about those elections, a bit of history and facts and at the end an exhibition. So here we go.

When is Europe voting?

The people in Great Britain and the ones in the Nederlands have already started voting on the morning of May 23rd and it is estimated that 427 million electors will cast their ballot today. Although the Brits have already voted to get out of the EU, since Brexit was postponed they had to organise elections. One thing though, although voting today the final results will be public on the evening of May 26th when all the European countries will have finished their electoral process.

Tomorrow, on May 24th the Irish will go to the voting stations and on Saturday, May 25th, Slovakia, Latvia and Malta will express their political preferences in these European elections. Czechia will vote on two days, Friday and Saturday, so May 24th and 25th. 

The rest of 21 European Countries (out of 28) will vote in these European elections on Sunday, May 26th, and the first results will be made public on Sunday.

An elections related exhibition in Luxembourg 

Europe is voting to elect the future Members of the European Parliament for 40 years, the first European Election took place on June 7th, 1979. I wasn't even born that day, but I've started voting for the EP in 2009 when Romanians voted for the first time and ever since I vote.
I don't know much about politics, but I do know that regular citizens have just one or two ways of controlling the politics, the vote once every four or five years and the protests when something out of place happens. Some countries in the EU protest a lot and some not at all, but they all vote. And we vote for the European elections once every five years, so in '79, '84, '89, ' get the point. 

In Luxembourg there was an ample campaign asking people over 18 years old to register to vote. I even took part in one or two events on the theme, but I was already convinced. I did not register to vote in Belgium, though, because I know nothing about the Belgian politic system and I also feel my vote is worth more if I vote for my home country, Romania.

I won't go into details, because I refer from making politics on this space, but I feel that this year more than ever Romania needs a fresh perspective, it needs to realise it is part of this great thing which is European Union and it should fight for its rights.

But I've digressed, along with the events to promote the European elections, at the House of Europe in the Luxembourg City Centre there is an exhibition with posters from all over Europe. It is free to visit and I wanted to take this exact picture, when we visited the exhibition, standing next to the first UK poster for the European Elections in 1979. As the Brits chose to exit the EU, in 2019 they vote for the last time in this elections. 

The exhibition will be open until May 26th so if you are interested in a little bit of visual history please do go and check it out.

A bit of history

As I've said Europeans voted for the first time to elect the MEP in 1979. Back then only Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Nederlands, United Kingdom and West Germany voted. In 1984 Greece joined the elections and four years later Spain and Portugal. In 1999 Austria, Finland and Sweden voted for the first time to elect their MEP's. In 2004 the largest extension of the EU took place and that meant that 10 more countries joined the European Elections, Cyprus, the then Czech Republic turned Czechia in the meantime, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Then, in 2009 it was our turn as Romanians together with our neighbours, the Bulgarians voted for the first time. In 2014 Croatia voted for EP for the first time and this year no new country joined the EU, but it will be the last time that these exact 28 countries will vote as this year Brexit will happen.

As long and complicated as this seems, know that around these dates the new countries who entered the EU after 1979, hold their own country elections to send members to the parliament. Greece in 1981, Portugal in 1997, Spain in the same year, Sweden 1995, Austria 1997, Bulgaria and Romania 2007, Croatia in 2013.

Some logistics

Once you have read all that, you might wonder how the places in the European Parliament are distributed. Well, know that it depends on the population of member states and follows the principle of degressive proportionality. That means that countries that are smaller in terms of population should have fewer MEPs than bigger countries. At the same time, MEPs from larger countries should represent more people than MEPs from smaller countries. As a rule there are no less than 6 seats per country and no more then 96. Germany as the largest member of EU in terms of population has 96 seats, followed by France with 79 and Spain with 59 seats. On the opposite, Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus have only 6 seats in the European Parliament. Romania currently holds 33 seats.

According to the Treaty of the European Union, no more than 750 MEP plus a president will be elected on May 26th. Out of this number in the event of Brexit the 73 places that UK currently holds will be distributed as follows, 5 to France and Spain, 3 to Italy and the Nederlands, 2 to Ireland and 1 to Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Estonia, Poland and Romania. No member state will lose any seats.

Now that you made it this far, I have a big thank you for you! I really enjoyed documenting this article and as hard as it was I know that it is interesting. All of the facts are on the European Parliament website, I just made a tough selection of them all.

I will leave you with a few posters and remind you can still visit the exhibition at the House of Europe in Luxembourg.
"Do not just follow the heard. Choose your path for Europe", Luxembourg 2004 

"European elections, you decide!", Romania 2009 
UK 1979
I hope you enjoyed reading this long article as much as I loved putting it together. As usual I'll wait for you on Instagram @mademoiselle.ralu

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