European Parliament election, 2009


European Parliament election, 2009

Elections to the European Parliament will be held from 4 June to 7 June 2009 [ [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/008-29480-140-05-21-901-20080520IPR29479-19-05-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm European Parliament] ] [ [http://www.europarl.org.uk/news/Calendar2009.pdf UK Office Calendar] ] [ [http://www.europarl.de/aktuell/2008_mai_sitzungskalender2009.html Fehler 404 ] ] in the 27 member states of the European Union, using varying election days according to local custom – for instance on 4 June 2009, a Thursday, in the United Kingdom. 515,000,000 EU citizens will elect over 700 MEPs by proportional representation, topping the 2004 election which was the biggest trans-national election in history.

As of 2008, it is unclear if the Treaty of Lisbon will have entered into force prior to this election; if so, it will be the first election held under its provisions, increasing the power of the Parliament and relevance of the election; if not, the existing framework established by the Treaty of Nice will be used again. Amongst other differences, the number of MEPs to be returned would differ depending on which rules are in effect: 736 MEPs would be elected per Nice rules, while this would increase to 751 if Lisbon were to be in force.

Election date

There is some confusion as to the actual date of the election, as some sources indicate the election will be held a week later. The Luxembourgian legislative election, which usually takes place at the same time, is set to be held on 14 June 2009. A similar situation exists with the Bulgarian parliamentary election. [http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/newsbriefs/setimes/newsbriefs/2008/04/04/nb-03 Bulgarian parliamentary parties agree to hold general, EP elections in June 2009 (SETimes.com) ] ] Conversely, discussions are under way to reschedule local elections in Britain to 4 June 2009 [ [http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/localgovernment/pdf/812363.pdf "Moving the date of English Local Government elections to the date of the European Parliament elections in 2009 Consultation", UK Department for Communities and Local Government] ] to match the European Parliament election date, even though some preprinted election material gives the date as 11 June. [http://www.walsall.gov.uk/european_nationals.pdf For Office ] ] Irish local elections are expected to be held on 5 June 2009, as they have been held concurrently with European Parliament elections in 1999 and 2004. A referendum on reforming the Danish Act of Succession to give women the same rights through equal primogeniture will be held on 7 June 2009.

Changes in this election

New member states

This will be the first European Parliament election that Bulgaria and Romania will participate in at the same time as the other member states. They had joined in 2007, increasing the overall number of MEPs above the agreed threshold; seats have been reallocated to bring the total back down, to 736 after the 2009 elections; the Treaty of Lisbon sets the total to 751 (see Apportionment below).

Croatia hopes to join in 2009 and participate in the elections; however European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn has that said 2010 is more likely accession date. [ [http://www.euractiv.com/en/enlargement/rehn-croatia-join-eu-2010/article-156042 Euractiv.com - Croatia will not join EU before 2010] - URL accessed on June 12, 2006] This was however before the 2007 agreement on the Treaty of Lisbon, which is scheduled to come into force 1 January 2009. This might increase the likelihood of Croatia joining before the election.

Re-apportionment of seats

At the previous election member states were granted a fixed allocation of seats for election (current allocation is in the 2007 column below). With the admission of Bulgaria and Romania, these allocations will be modified under the existing Treaty of Nice (see first 2009 column below). However, provided the Treaty of Lisbon is ratified and comes into force before the election as planned, there would be an increase in seats leading to a slightly different distribution (see second 2009 column below);

Media coverage

The European Parliament, National broadcasters, the EBU, with the cooperation of the Communication Commissioner, Margot Wallström, are jointly working to make the 2009 election more interesting to the public in order to increase the turnout. Previously, diverse news media in the European Union, and the fact that the election takes place over several days, have made it hard to attract viewers. The media consortium is hoping to focus the 2009 election more towards the EU level and the European Parliament itself, hoping to make the election more interesting and cosmetically appealing for television viewers. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/23566 EU wants to dress up 2009 elections on TV] , EUobserver.com Accessed February 26, 2007] Members of the European Parliament (MEP) also started initiatives in late 2007 to make the election more interesting to voters in a bid to increase turnout. [ [http://www.theparliament.com/EN/News/200711/e880c0b0-dd40-445f-9999-14d7fa81edb3.htm theparliament.com - MEPs outline plans to boost EU parliament election turnout ] ]

'Truly' pan-European parties

A new type of parties has emerged since the 2004 election, namely [http://www.newropeans.eu/index.php?lang=en "Newropeans"] , [http://europeunited.eu/modules/start/ "Europe United"] and "Europe – Democracy – Esperanto". They intend to run for campaigns in the 2009 election in more or less all member states simultaneously, although they are currently very limited in size. As opposed to established European parties such as the European People's Party or the Party of European Socialists, the new parties are not alliances of pre-existing national parties. The European Greens were the first to form a formal party to launch their cross-border campaign in 2004 [ [http://www.europeangreens.org/cms/default/rubrik/9/9114.history.htm history of the European Green Party] at europeangreens.org] .

Declan Ganley, who was instrumental in the Lisbon Treaty's defeat in the June 2008 referendum in Ireland, has stated he will transform his lobby group Libertas into a political party and contest the election in all 26 EU member states which did not hold a referendum on the treaty. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ireland/2435927/Irish-No-vote-architect-plans-Europe-wide-referendum-on-Lisbon-Treaty.html]

Potential events

Commission President

If the Treaty of Lisbon will enter into force as originally planned in time for the elections, it should bring various changes retaining most of the proposals originally outlined in the European Constitution. [cite web|last = Council of the European Union|title = Brussels European Council 21/22 June 2007: Presidency Conclusions |date=2007-06-20|url=http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/94932.pdf|accessdate = 2007-06-22 |format=PDF] These changes increase the powers of Parliament, including powers over the appointment of the President of the European Commission. [cite web|last = Europa website|title = The Union's institutions: The European Parliament |url=http://europa.eu/scadplus/constitution/parliament_en.htm|accessdate = 2007-06-28 ] It has been suggested by some that political parties could run with candidates for the Commission President; [ [http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/john_palmer/2007/01/good_rather_than_bad_not_b_ig.html Size shouldn't matter] commentisfree.guardian.co.uk 10/01/07] with leaders now linking the post to elections and that convention having being enshrined in the Constitution, further encouraging the possibility. [ [http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-europefuture/article_1346.jsp Too much champagne, not enough leadership] opendemocracy.net 10/07/03] Plans by Margot Wallström would support political parties to run candidates, Barroso is seeking a second term and may gain the support of the European People's Party. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/24370 European politics to get more political] , EU Observer 27/06/07] French President Nicolas Sarkozy publicly supported Barroso's second term in early July 2008. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/26475/?rk=1 EUobserver ] ] On 19 July 2008, Barroso himself stated for the first time that he'd like to serve a second term. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/26513/?rk=1 EUobserver ] ] However, after the recent result of Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon on the 12 of June 2008, the possibility that the treaty will effectively enter into force on time for the 2009 European Parliamentary elections seems less and less likely to happen.

Political alliance shuffling

Fate of AEN/UEN

The Union for Europe of the Nations (UEN) political group, today a rump body that can trace its ancestry back to its origins as a Gaullist ideological alignment, seems increasingly unlikely to be reconstituted following this election. The associated Alliance for Europe of the Nations (AEN) party would potentially suffer a similar fate. The desertion of key players for other alliances would likely lower both the UEN's membership to levels where it cannot exist for a lack of MEPs, and AEN's membership to levels where it cannot be funded for a lack of parties that reach the EU's electoral threshold.

The largest single contributor of MEPs to the UEN group, the Italian National Alliance, will completely merge with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia into the People of Freedom by the end of 2008 [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7388652.stm BBC NEWS | Europe | Berlusconi names cabinet line-up ] ] . PdL will inherit FI's membership in the EPP; a single list of PdL candidates will be run in 2009 which would then take their seats in the EPP-ED (or a purely EPP) group, substantially reducing the potential MEPs that a UEN group could draw upon. [ [http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1208269038.8 Berlusconi win raises hopes, fears in Brussels — EUbusiness.com - business, legal and economic news and information from the European Union ] ] . This move will come after a series of attempts by National Alliance to abandon more staunchly nationalist and euroskeptic parties and move towards the moderate European centre-right, including a previous application for EPP membership.

National Alliance shares the the group presidency with Ireland's Fianna Fáil, a centrist party that has been a proponent of European integration. FF has been even more openly uncomfortable about its European affiliation, with former leader Bertie Ahern often distancing his party from the right-wing positions of his groupmates and describing UEN as purely a "technical arrangement." It very nearly joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe during the group reshuffle after the last European elections and is expected to make another attempt to leave the UEN in favour of another group. It has previously attempted to join the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. [ [http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2006/12/26/181546/28 European Political Parties (Part II: the parties) [with Poll] : Alliance for the Europe of the Nations] eurotrib.com 28/12/06] [ [http://www.irishelection.com/12/ff-may-switch-to-the-liberals-eh-since-when-are-ff-liberals/ FF ‘may switch to the Liberals’—Eh, since when are FF liberals?] irishelection.com 19/12/06]

A third significant source of UEN's MEPs is Poland. Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland and League of Polish Families enjoy very little popular support and failed to stay in parliament in the Polish 2007 election, [ [http://www.poland.pl/news/article,Poll:_elections_good_for_Civic_Platform_and_Law_and_Justice,id,291198.htm News from Poland - Poll: elections good for Civic Platform and Law and Justice ] ]

AEN/UEN is also under threat from a potential new group led by members of the European Democrats (see below), who are attempting to woo at least two of its Euroskeptic members away. Law and Justice of Poland has been reported to be ready to do just this. [http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/politics/threelinewhip/jan08/eueurosceptic.htm Isaby, Jonathan - Eurosceptic group in EU strengthens] ] The disappearance of UEN might also have repercussions for Independence/Democracy, as those parties of UEN which do not join another group immediately might then decide to form a new group with the I/D members.

Movement for European Reform

The Conservatives and Ulster Unionists of the United Kingdom, together with the Czech Civic Democrats might leave the European Democrats (effectively dissolving it through lack of members, as only one Italian will be left), which is currently allied to the European People's Party (EPP); instead, these parties will form a new parliamentary grouping based on the Movement for European Reform (MER). [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5175994.stm In full: Cameron Euro declaration] BBC News 13/07/06]

Although the Conservatives alone have the minimum required number of MEPs at 19, they would still need to join with parties from three other countries to formally create a group. There has been speculation that Polish Law and Justice would join the proposed grouping, although it expressed its support for the continuance of the UEN. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/uk_politics/5176782.stm Q&A: The Tories and the EPP] BBC News 13/07/06] , it is reportedly keen to join MER.

Another possible party is the Latvian TB/LNNK, also currently aligned with AEN. There are also numerous independents that might join the group. The most optimistic estimates suggest MER could become the third largest group in the Parliament. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4665818.stm The Tories and their EU allies 11/07/06] ]

Other issues

The PES and EPP–ED have proposed to raise the limit for groups in the EP from 20 MEPs and one fifth of member states to 30 MEPs and a quarter of member states, which would effectively close down UEN and I/D. All five smaller groups (UEN and I/D plus ALDE, Greens–EFA and UEN–NGL) have protested these proposed changes. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/26216/?rk=1 EUobserver.com ] ] The change was voted down 15 to 14 in committee, but a plenary vote was nonetheless expected to be held on it in July 2008. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/26221/?rk=1 EUobserver.com ] ] The plenary vote on 9 July 2008 approved (as a compromise) new rules which require 25 MEPs from at least a fourth of the member states (i.e. seven member states), a chance which would affect I/D (only 22 MEPs) and UEN (only MEPs from six countries). The new rules will come into effect after the 2009 election. [ [http://euobserver.com/9/26468/?rk=1 EUobserver ] ] However, the new proposal also included a provision allowing the continued existence of a group which had fallen below the threshold, but only if it still had members from at least a fifth of the member states and only if it had been founded at least a year before failing the threshold; if there is "sufficient evidence" of the abuse of this provision, it need not be applied. [ [http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/009-33698-189-07-28-901-20080708IPR33697-07-07-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm European Parliament increases threshold to form a political group ] ]

Parliament President

There are rumours that the two largest groups in Parliament, the EPP-ED and PES, have already agreed to share the post of President of the European Parliament as they have done for all but two terms of Parliament. The first half of the term will be taken by Jerzy Buzek MEP of the EPP (who would be the first person from Eastern Europe to hold the post), who will then pass it over to Martin Schulz MEP, the current leader of PES. [ [http://brusselsblogger.blogactiv.eu/2008/04/22/next-ep-president-to-be-a-pole/ Next EP president to be a Pole?] ] The previous term has seen a great amount of co-operation between the two groups following on from the 1999-2004 term which saw an EPP-ELDR alliance.

References


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