Voting is being held in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on May 22 in the 2014 European Parliament elections, the first two European Union states to vote in a process that will continue until May 25, the day – it could be dubbed “Super Sunday” – that most EU states will vote.
The Sofia Globe has compiled a factfile of the essential numbers and dates to note:
Population and electorate: The EU is said to have a population of about 504 456 000. Estimates are that across the 28 member states, just more than 400 million are eligible to vote.
Voting age: 18, with the exception of Austria, where it is 16.
Voting system: The electoral system in each member state is governed by its own national law. However, certain principles must be kept to – direct universal suffrage, and a free and secret ballot. MEPs are elected in each EU member state on the basis of proportional representation.
Number of members: The European Parliament being elected in May 2014 will have 751 members, consisting of 750 MEPs and a European Parliament President.
Term of office: Five years. MEPs will be in office until July 2019.
Electoral threshold: Varies, but may not be higher than five per cent.
Compulsory voting: In Belgium, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Greece
Number of MEPs being elected by member states:
Belgium 21; Bulgaria 17; Czech Republic 21; Denmark 13; Germany 96; Estonia 6; Ireland 11; Greece 21; Spain 54; France 74′ Croatia 11; Italy 73; Cyprus 6; Latvia 8; Lithuania 11; Luxembourg 6; Hungary 21; Malta 6; Netherlands 26; Austria 18; Poland 51;Portugal 21; Romania 32; Slovenia 8; Slovakia 13; Finland 13; Sweden 20; and United Kingdom 73.
The European Commission has asked that results not be released before 11pm Brussels time on May 25. If plans run to schedule, estimates on voter turnout across the EU will be released about two hours before this.
However, there will be exit polls results from the Netherlands on May 22 and on May 25, ahead of official results by a few hours, there will be exit polls from Germany, France and Greece.
Dates to vote
May 22: UK, Netherlands
May 23 and 24: Czech Republic
May 24: Latvia, Malta, Slovakia
May 25: Italy, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Dates to note
May 27: Heads of state and government meet in Brussels for informal discussions on who should be the next European Commission President. The Lisbon Treaty requires them to take into account the results of the European Parliament elections. Discussions also will be held among the leaders of the political groups in the European Parliament.
June 2: First meetings of European Parliament political groups.
June 26 and 27: European Council meets. Nominations for European Commission President submitted.
July 1 to 3: Constitutive meeting of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. Election of European Parliament President.
July 14 to 17: MEPs elect European Commission President. To win, a candidate must get at least 376 votes.
August: EU member states each nominate a European Commissioner. The European Parliament will hold hearings of commissioner-designates in September.
October 20 to 23: European Parliament votes on new College of Commissioners, as it is formally known.
November 1: European Commission takes office.
November: EU member states decide on European Council President and foreign policy chief.
December 1: European Council President and foreign policy chief (officially, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) take office.