Why European elections matter to world?

In June, voters from 27 European countries will participate in elections that are crucial for both the European Union and the wider world. Approximately 400 million people are eligible to vote, spanning from Finland to Cyprus and from Ireland to Bulgaria. The outcome will determine the composition of the next European Parliament, which serves as the primary link between European citizens and EU institutions.

The elections will shape the EU’s future policies on issues like climate change, migration, integration, and nationalism for the next five years. With right-wing and far-right parties gaining ground in Europe, their influence is expected to increase in the Parliament. Based in Brussels and Strasbourg, the European Parliament enacts legislation affecting EU citizens, approves the annual budget (which is €189 billion this year), and plays a role in selecting the European Commission’s president.

Voting begins on Thursday, June 6th, starting in the Netherlands, followed by Ireland and Malta on Friday, and Latvia and Slovakia on Saturday, with most countries voting on Sunday, June 9th. Voting rules vary by country, with different age requirements and compulsory voting in some places.

The results, determined by proportional representation, will fill 720 seats in the Parliament, an increase from the previous election. The distribution of MEPs among countries is based on population size, from Germany’s 96 seats to six each for smaller states like Malta, Luxembourg, and Cyprus.

The European Parliament is crucial in shaping EU legislation, endorsing budgets, and overseeing other EU institutions. It often acts across party lines rather than nationalities, with significant roles for various political groups, including the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D), among others.

While the election focuses on the Parliament’s makeup, it also provides a platform for voters to express views on national issues. With right-wing parties poised to make significant gains, the election could impact future climate policies and EU support for initiatives like aid to Ukraine.

One of the Parliament’s first tasks will be electing the president of the European Commission, with Ursula von der Leyen seeking re-election. The European Council, reflecting the election results, nominates a candidate, needing over 50% of MEP votes for approval. Although the Spitzenkandidaten system was used previously to propose presidential candidates, it might not be used this time, as seen in the last selection of Ms. von der Leyen.

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