The Council of the European Union said on March 20 that it has put forth the period from May 23 to 26 2019 as its preferred date for the next European Parliament elections.
The proposal is subject to consultations with the European Parliament, which would be followed by a formal Council of the EU decision before the end of June.
Under the 1976 Electoral Act, the next European Parliament elections should take place from June 6 to 9 2019, but member states have deemed it ‘impossible’ to hold the elections at that time, with the council unanimously agreeing on the alternative dates, a media statement from the Council of the EU said on March 20.
A similar situation arose at the time of the last European Parliament elections in 2014, when the election period was brought forward from June 5-8 to May 22-25.
After a formal decision by the council, each individual EU member state will set its own election date within the mandated period – except for the UK, which is set to leave the EU shortly before the elections. Brexit will not impact the number of Bulgaria’s MEPs, however, under the terms of the European Parliament proposal for redistribution of seats, which also features shrinking the legislature from 751 MEPs to 705, approved last month.
Given that Bulgaria customarily holds its elections – parliamentary, presidential, municipal – on a Sunday, this would imply an election date of May 26 2019. The date must be set by presidential decree, as all elections in Bulgaria are called by the head of state.
In Bulgaria, that will be a long weekend as the Friday before election day is a public holiday – on May 24, the country honours Saints Cyril and Methodius on the Day of Slavonic learning and culture – which could have an impact on voter turnout since many Bulgarians make trips on long weekends. In the 2014 European Parliament elections, when there was no long weekend, voter turnout crept just over 36 per cent.