How are the European elections going? The little guide to understand everything

By Maxime Vaudano and Agathe Dahyot

The 26 May ballot may have profound implications for the future of Europe.

From 23 to 26 May, all Europeans are called to the polls for the European elections. If we say "elections", there are several: 28 separate elections in 28 countries. Because you, as a Frenchman, are not going to participate in the same election as your Italian or German neighbors.

1. 74 MEPs chosen by the French

In France, you will vote May 26 (or the 25th in some overseas territories), and will have the choice between 33 different lists. All have 79 names, and are composed almost exclusively of French candidates.

74 or 79 deputies?

→ The probable participation of the United Kingdom in the European elections, in the absence of Brexit, will somewhat upset the polling process. France, which should have recovered some of the seats left vacant by the British in Parliament, will finally have only 74 instead of 79. The French nevertheless still elect five deputies "reserve", which can sit only the the day the United Kingdom leaves the EU.

→ It is not possible to block certain names and to add some: you will have to choose a complete list.

→ Europeans who do not have French nationality have the right to appear on a list in France, and vice versa, even if it is quite rare in practice.

Here are the 33 lists in the running:

  • With equal voices – Nathalie Tomasini (feminist)
  • Yellow Alliance – Francis Lalanne (yellow vests)
  • Royal Alliance – Robert de Prévoisin (nationalist right)
  • Let's go kids – Sophie Caillaud (divers)
  • Standing France / CNIP – Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (nationalist right)
  • Decay 2019 – Thérèse Delfel (ecologist)
  • Representative Democracy – Hamada Traoré (miscellaneous)
  • Europe democracy Esperanto – Pierre Dieumegard (miscellaneous)
  • Europe Ecology-The Greens – Yannick Jadot (ecologist)
  • Citizen Evolution – Christophe Chalençon (yellow vests)
  • Génération.s – Benoît Hamon (socialist left)
  • Insubordinate France – Manon Aubry (radical left)
  • The clear line – Renaud Camus (far right)
  • The Republic on the move / Modem – Nathalie Loiseau (center)
  • The forgotten of Europe – Olivier Bidou (divers)
  • The Patriots – Florian Philippot (far right)
  • The Republicans – François-Xavier Bellamy (right)
  • List of the reconquest – Vincent Vauclin (far right)
  • Workers' struggle – Nathalie Arthaud (radical left)
  • Movement for the citizens' initiative – Gilles Helgen (yellow vests)
  • Neutral and active – Cathy Brobet (miscellaneous)
  • Animal Party – Hélène Thouy (Ecologist)
  • French Communist Party – Ian Brossat (radical left)
  • Party of European citizens – Audric Alexandre (miscellaneous)
  • European Federalist Party – Yves Gernigon (miscellaneous)
  • Pirate party – Florie Marie (miscellaneous)
  • Communist Revolutionary Party – Antonio Sanchez (radical left)
  • Socialist Party / Public Place – Raphael Glucksman (socialist left)
  • National Rally – Jordan Bardella (far right)
  • Democratic Union for Freedom Equality Fraternity – Christian Person (divers)
  • Union of Democrats and Independents – Jean-Christophe Lagarde (center)
  • Republican People's Union – François Asselineau (nationalist right)
  • Emergency Ecology – Dominique Bourg (ecologist)

The results will be announced on the evening of May 26. All lists that make less than 5% are eliminated. The others share the 74 French seats in the European Parliament proportional:

→ If a list gets 20% of the votes, it could win, according to the results of the other lists, between 17 and 23 seats.

2. 751 MEPs from 28 countries

The same thing happens in the other 27 European countries, with a few details. But the number of MEPs depends on the population of the country: the most populous country, Germany elects 96, against only 6 in the small Malta. In total, the next European Parliament will count 751 seats if the Brexit does not take place before the elections, and 705 in case of departure from the United Kingdom.

3. The composition of the political groups

In July, the 74 French deputies arrive in Parliament. To function, the assembly needs to structure itself into political groups, each of which will have a speaking time and places allocated in the key positions. Members of the different countries are therefore grouped by political affinities to constitute parliamentary groups.

→ If the main groups of the previous mandate (2014-2019) should remain, it is possible that some recompositions are taking place, especially among eurosceptics or centrists. During the previous term, Marine Le Pen and her allies had to wait a year after the election to create a group.

4. The election of the Speaker of Parliament

Parliament is almost in place, but one detail is still missing: you have to elect a president. Like this one is elected by absolute majority by MEPs, the group with the most MEPs is likely to win the presidency of Parliament.

→ Until 2014, the two big right-wing and left-wing groups agreed to each turn one of their own to the presidency of Parliament, every 2.5 years. The election of the president was therefore generally played in advance. But this time, the vote may be more open.

→ The president has a role of representation, but also a real weight on the agenda and the initiatives of the European Parliament, a little like that of the National Assembly, in France. The last incumbent of the post was the Italian Conservative Antonio Tajani (2017-2019).

5. The installation of the European Commission

The Parliament is in place, but we still have to renew the leadership of the European Commission, the equivalent of the European Union government, by first choosing its president.

During the summer, the different European governments agree to propose a candidate for this post. This name must be sufficiently consensual to be approved by a majority coalition of MEPs, who vote to validate the nomination, after having auditioned the candidates.

→ The procedure for appointing the President of the Commission is rather uncertain. The European texts only specify that the name proposed by the governments must "take into account the result of the European elections".

Does this mean that he must be the leader of the parliamentary group that comes first? This was the case in 2014, with the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker, leader of the EPP, the right-wing party that won the elections. This is what the European Parliament is asking for again in 2019.

But it is possible that this will happen differently, if the leaders of the Union decide to choose their candidate themselves, or if no group arrives clearly in front of the elections: it would then be necessary to find a candidate consensual for satisfy the widest possible coalition of political groups.

here is the different possible scenarios :

Manfred Weber

If the EPP Conservatives take the lead, they will propose their leader Manfred Weber to chair the European Commission. The German MEP is from CSU, the allied party of Angela Merkel.

Franz Timmermans

If the Social Democrats of the S & D arrive at the top, they will propose Frans Timmermans. This former Dutch minister was number two of the Juncker commission between 2014 and 2019.

Ska Keller and Bas EickhoutVioleta Tomič and Nico Cué

Some other major European parties have nominated candidates for the presidency of the European Commission, although it is highly unlikely that they will succeed in bringing together a majority coalition

The Greens chose the German and Dutch MEPs Ska Keller and Bas Eickhout.

The radical left (GUE / NGL) has invested the Slovenian MEP Violeta Tomič and the Belgian trade unionist Nico Cué.

If nobody manages to gather a majority on his namenegotiations will begin between the main parties to find a consensus candidate. We mention the names of Michel Barnier (former right-wing French minister, chief Brexit negotiator) or Margrethe Vestager (a Danish Liberal, Commissioner of Competition between 2014 and 2019, who has distinguished himself by his fight against the tax optimization of multinationals).

At the end of the summer, each European government proposes one of its nationals to join the European Commission alongside the new president. From this list of 26 names, the President of the Commission distributes the portfolios (culture, environment, trade, taxation …), as a prime minister who would compose his government.

Each of the new Commissioners is heard individually by the European Parliament, which has the power to reject their appointment if it does not suit them.

→ It is Emmanuel Macron who will propose the name of the future French European Commissioner, but it is in theory the president who will decide which portfolio he will occupy – in fact, the choice is made in consultation with the big Member States. In 2014, François Hollande had chosen his former minister Pierre Moscovici, who had inherited the economy in the Juncker team.

In November, the process is normally over: according to the Brexit has already taken place, Europe has a Parliament of 705 to 751 elected and a college of 27 or 28 Commissioners, which more or less reflects the balance political forces in Europe. They will have to work together for five years with the 27 or 28 European governments to pass laws and support the European Union.


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