EUROPP is running a series of articles on the European Parliament elections, which were held on 22-25 May. This page collates all of the material in the series. The first section on the page gives an overview of how the elections work, the Chart in the second section shows the number of seats each parliamentary group received in the elections, while the country tabs in the third section illustrate the number of seats each national party received. The final section contains a number of articles on the campaign at the European level.
How European Parliament Elections Work
Number of MEPs
The total number of MEPs has been reduced for the 2014 elections from 766 to 751. This reduction is to comply with a limit placed on the size of the Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon.
Distribution of seats
Seats in the European Parliament are allocated to each state on the basis of population, with the largest states being assigned the most MEPs. For the 2014 elections, the distribution of seats is as follows:
It is up to each state to choose how they elect their allocated MEPs, but there are some broad rules about the kind of systems which may be used. The system must be generally proportional (the overall percentage of votes must loosely match the percentage of seats given to each party) and electoral thresholds to determine which parties are eligible for a share of seats must not be set any higher than five per cent of the vote.
Most countries use a form of party list proportional representation, of which there are essentially two different types. Under the first system, termed a ‘closed list’ system, voters simply vote for a party of their choice. Seats are then distributed to parties based on the percentage of the vote they receive: for instance, if there are 10 seats available and five parties each gain 20 per cent of the vote, then all five parties will receive two seats each. Under a closed list system, the politicians who receive these seats are determined by a list of candidates which is put forward by each party in advance. If a party wins one seat then it will be given to the candidate at the top of the list, if they win two seats then the next seat will go to the second candidate on the list, and so on. Countries which use closed list systems include France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the UK (excluding Northern Ireland).
The second form of party list proportional representation, in contrast, allows voters to vote not just for a party, but also to influence the order of the party lists by indicating a preference for individual candidates. In this system, sometimes called ‘preferential voting’ or a ‘semi-open list’, seats are distributed to parties based on the overall vote share they receive, but within party lists those candidates with the highest support are put to the top of the list (although there are variations in how this works in practice). Preferential voting is used in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, among others. Luxembourg essentially uses an ‘open list’ system as voters can ‘cross-vote’: i.e. they can vote for multiple candidates across different party lists.
In two states, Ireland and Malta, plus the region of Northern Ireland in the UK, a different system is used entirely: the Single Transferable Vote (STV). In this system, voters rank candidates in order of preference, typically by putting the number 1 next to their first choice, 2 next to their second choice and so on. The basic principle for allocating seats under this system is that candidates must reach a certain quota to be elected (e.g. if there is only one seat being contested in a constituency then the quota might be 50 per cent of the vote). If no candidate reaches this quota (or in the case of multiple seats within a constituency, not enough candidates to allocate all of the seats available) then candidates with the least votes are ‘eliminated’ and the voters who supported these candidates have their vote ‘transferred’ to their second preference. This continues until all of the seats have been allocated.
There are also variations in the types of constituency used in European elections. Five states – France, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the UK – separate their elections into different regions (e.g. there are 8 MEPs allocated to London, so the seats for London are distributed based on the percentage of the vote each party receives from London voters). Most countries, however, treat the entire country as a single constituency. The electoral system used in each country is shown below.
Note: Although Germany originally had a three per cent threshold, this was invalidated by the German Constitutional Court so no threshold was in place for the 2014 elections. The UK uses a closed list system except in Northern Ireland, which uses Single Transferable Vote. Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland are treated as single constituencies, but there are particular rules in which regions play a role in the distribution of seats (for instance in Belgium there is a single seat reserved for the country’s German speaking minority).
For more information on the groups in the Parliament, see: European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL); Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D); The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA); Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE); European People’s Party (EPP); European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR); Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).
Country Polls and Previews
- Czech Republic
Latest update: Average of EP polls between 14 – 17 May; Gallup, Hajek, Market and Unique. For more information on the parties see: Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), The Greens – The Green Alternative, NEOS – The New Austria.
Latest update: average of polls between 28 April – 11 May; RTBF. Note: The Christian Social Party (CSP) represents Belgium’s German speaking community – under Belgian law one seat is reserved for this community. For more information on the other parties see: New-Flemish Alliance (N-VA); Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V); Socialist Party (PS); Reformist Movement (MR); Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open Vld); Socialist Party Different (sp.a); Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH); Groen (Green); Ecolo; Flemish Interest (VB); Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB); People’s Party (PP); Francophone Democratic Federalists (FDF).
Latest update: average of polls 13 May; Media and IMP. Note: The Coalition for Bulgaria is an alliance between several parties: the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), Party of Bulgarian Social Democrats, Agrarian Union “Aleksandar Stamboliyski”, and Movement for Social Humanism. For more information on the other parties see: Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB); Bulgaria Without Censorship; Movement for Rights and Freedoms; Alternative for Bulgarian Renaissance; Reformist Bloc; Ataka (Attack).
Latest update: EP poll conducted by Ipsos Puls 16 May. Note: The Croatian Democratic Union Coalition is composed of four parties, of which the Croatian Democratic Union is the largest. The Kukuriku Coalition contains parties from different parliamentary groups, as a result the vote share shown is for the coalition as a whole, but the seat prediction is split between the parties in each group: the Social Democratic Party of Croatia, which is part of S&D; and the Croatian People’s Party – Liberal Democrats (HNS) and Istrian Democratic Assembly (IDS-DDI), which are part of ALDE. For information on the other parties, see: Croatian Sustainable Development (ORaH); Croatian Labourists – Labour Party; and Alliance for Croatia, which is an alliance of several small right-wing parties.
Latest update: EP poll conducted by IMR on 15 May. Note: Several parties are running in coalitions. For more information on the parties, see: Democratic Rally (DISY); Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL); Democratic Party (DIKO); and Movement for Social Democracy EDEK.
Latest update: average of EP polls conducted from 20 April – 16 May by Herzmann and Sanep. For more information on the parties see: ANO 2011; Czech Social Democratic Party (ČSSD); Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM); TOP 09; Civic Democratic Party (ODS); Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL); and Dawn of Direct Democracy.
Latest update: Average of polls 6 – 12 May; YouGov, Epinion, Greens, Gallup, A&B, and Voxmeter. For more information on parties see: Venstre – Liberal Party of Denmark; Danish People’s Party; Social Democrats; People’s Movement Against the EU; Danish Social Liberal Party (Radical Left); Socialist People’s Party; Conservative People’s Party; Liberal Alliance.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 16 April – 17 May; TNS Emor. Note: Indrek Tarand is an independent candidate. For more information on the parties see: Estonian Centre Party; Social Democratic Party; Estonian Reform Party; Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 20 March – 6 May; YouGov and YLE. For more information on the parties see: National Coalition Party; Centre Party; Finns Party; Social Democratic Party of Finland; Green League; Left Alliance.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 14 – 16 May; Ifop, OpinionWay, TNS, CSA and Ipsos. For more information on the parties see: Union for a Popular Movement (UMP); Front National (FN); Socialist Party (PS); Front de Gauche; Union of Democrats and Independents (UDI); Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV); New Anticapitalist Party (NPA); Arise the Republic (DLR).
Latest update: average of EP polls from 8 – 16 May; FGW and Infratest. For more information on the parties see: Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU); Social Democrats (SPD); German Greens; Die Linke (The Left); Alternative for Germany (AfD); Free Democrats (FDP); Pirate Party; National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD); Free Voters (FW).
Latest update: average of EP polls from 14 – 15 May; Palmos and Alco. Note: PASOK is contesting the elections as part of the ‘Olive Tree’ alliance, which also includes Agreement for the New Greece, Dynamic Greece and the New Reformers. For information on the other parties see: Coalition of the; Radical Left (SYRIZA); New Democracy; Golden Dawn; The River (To Potami); Communist Party of Greece (KKE); Independent Greeks; Democratic Left.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 13-16 May; IPSOS and Nezopont Intezet. Note: Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) form an alliance. For the other parties see: Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP); Democratic Coalition (DK); Jobbik; Politics can be Different (LMP).
Latest update: average of EP polls from 2 – 14 May; RedC, Millward Brown, and Behaviour & Attitudes. Note: for ‘Independents/Others’ one of the predicted seats will go to a candidate in ALDE and the other is predicted to go to a non-aligned candidate. For information on the parties see: Fine Gael; Fianna Fáil; Sinn Féin; Labour Party; Green Party.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 8 – 9 May; SWG, IXE and DEMOS. For more information on the parties see: Democratic Party (PD); Five Star Movement (M5S); Forza Italia (FI); New Centre-Right (NCD); Lega Nord (LN); The Other Europe – with Tsipras; Brothers of Italy (FdI); European Choice; South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP). European Choice is an electoral list centred around the Civic Choice party.
Latest update: EP poll from 28 April; Faktu. Note: Harmony Centre is an alliance of two parties – the Socialist Party of Latvia (GUE-NGL – 2 seats) and the Social Democratic Party (S&D – 1 seat). For more information on the parties see: Harmony Centre, Unity, Union of Greens and Farmers (ZZS), National Alliance (NA), From the Heart of Latvia.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 17 April; Splinter. For more information on the parties see: Social Democratic Party of Lithuania; Order and Justice; Labour Party; Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats; Liberal Movement; Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania.
Latest update: based on analysis of general election results in October 2013. For more information on the parties see: Christian Social People’s Party (CSV); Luxembourg Socialist Workers’ Party (LSAP); Democratic Party (DP); The Greens.
Latest update: based on EP poll conducted on 13 April by Malta Today. For more information on the parties see: Labour Party; Nationalist Party; Democratic Alternative.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 16 April – 16 May; TNS Nipo. For more information on the parties see: Democrats 66 (D66); Party for Freedom (PVV); People’s Party for Freedom & Democracy ; Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA); Socialist Party (SP); Labour Party (PvdA); Christian Union (CU); GreenLeft (GL); 50PLUS; Party for the Animals (PvdD).
Latest update: average of EP polls from 7 – 14 May; TNS, HH, PPW, and CBOS. Note: Europa Plus is a joint list comprising several parties: the total predicted vote share for the list is shown under “Europa Plus – Your Movement” while the seats for individual parties within this list are also shown. For more information on the other parties see: Law and Justice (PiS); Civic Platform (PO); Democratic Left Alliance (SLD); Congress of the New Right; Polish People’s Party (PSL); Europa Plus – Your Movement.
Latest update: based on EP poll conducted on 17 May by Aximage. Democratic Unitarian Coalition is an alliance between the Portuguese Communist Party and the Ecologist Party (the Greens). For more information on the other parties, see: Socialist Party; Social Democratic Party; Left Bloc.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 10 – 12 May; INSCOP and CSOP. Note: Social Democratic Union (USD) is an alliance of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Conservative Party (PC), and the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR). For more information on the other parties see: National Liberal Party (PNL); Democratic Liberal Party (PD-L); Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR); Civic Force (FC); People’s Party – Dan Diaconescu (PP-DD).
Latest update: average of national polls from 5 May; Polis. Note: The Network is a new party created by Radoslav Procházka. For more information on the other parties, see: Smer-SD; Most-Hid; Ordinary People; Christian Democratic Movement; Party of the Hungarian Coalition; Slovak National Party; Slovak Democratic and Christian Union – Democratic Party.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 10 – 13 May; Ninamedia and Episcenter. For more information on the parties see: Slovenian Democratic Party; New Slovenia – Slovenian People’s Party; Social Democrats; Liberal Democracy of Slovenia; Positive Slovenia; Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia; United Left; Slovenian National Party.
Latest update: average of EP polls from 11 – 19 May; Metroscopia, SigmaDos, Celeste-Tel, and GAD3. Note: United Left and Initiative for Catalonia Greens are running on a joint list and therefore have a joint-vote share shown. A similar format is used for Democratic Convergence of Catalonia and the Basque National Party. For more information on the other parties see: People’s Party (PP); Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE); Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD).
Latest update: average of EP polls from 6 – 12 May; YouGov, Ipsos, Demoskop, and SKOP. For more information on the parties see: Swedish Social Democratic Party; Moderate Party; Green Party; Liberal People’s Party; Left Party; Sweden Democrats; Christian Democrats; Centre Party.