Make European elections more European, says Constitutional Affairs Committee



by Ralph T. Niemeyer

Ballot papers for the 2014 European elections should list European political parties as well as national ones, said the Constitutional Affairs Committee on Tuesday. European parties should name their candidates for European Commission President well in advance, to allow themselves time to run an EU-wide campaign on EU issues. National parties should also say which European party they belong to and who they back for Commission President, it added.


Recommendations on how EU member states and political parties can improve the organisation of the next European elections are set out in a report by Andrew Duff (ALDE, UK), adopted by 20 votes to 4. This report follows up the recent decisions to bring forward the polling date and to nominate party political candidates for the Commission presidency.


“Parliament means to use its new powers under the Lisbon treaty to shape the new Commission. We will have a decisive say in choosing who is to lead the Commission, and on his or her political programme. The 2014 election campaign will be more interesting, more European and more political than previous elections. I hope that the political parties, the candidates and the media will all raise their game, so that voters can make serious choices on the important political matters with which Parliament now deals”, said Mr Duff.


National political parties should tell citizens – before and during the electoral campaign – which European political party they belong to and also which candidate they support for Commission President, including his or her political programme.


The committee urges member states and political parties to see that the names of the European political parties and, where appropriate, their emblems, appear on the ballot paper. No member state currently does this.


Political parties should ensure that the names of candidate Members of the European Parliament are made public at least six weeks before the start of polling.


Parties should also field more female candidates, and encourage equal representation wherever possible.


Candidates should also be expected to pledge that if elected to serve as an MEP, they will do so, unless meanwhile appointed to a post that makes them ineligible (e.g. in the European Commission or a national government).


European political parties should name their candidates for Commission President “sufficiently well in advance of the election” to enable them to mount an EU-wide campaign on European issues, based on the party platform and the programme of their candidate for Commission President, says the committee. Candidates should be transparently and democratically selected, it adds.


Candidates for Commission President should personally present their political programmes in all EU member states, MEPs say. They also urge the European political parties to hold a series of public debates between the nominated candidates.


“Detailed arrangements for consultations between Parliament and the European Council on the election of the new Commission President should be agreed by common accord in good time before the elections”, stresses the committee.


The committee also expects that “the candidate for Commission President who was put forward by the European political party that wins the most seats in the Parliament will be the first to be considered” with a view to “ascertaining his/her ability to secure the support of the necessary absolute majority in Parliament”.

National political parties are encouraged to include on their lists of candidates EU citizens residing in member states other than their own and registered to vote there.
No official result should be published in any member state until after the close of polling in the member state whose electors are the last to vote on Sunday 25 May 2014, stresses the text.

The Constitutional Affairs Committee calls on member states to mount campaigns to encourage citizens to turn out and vote.

The committee also “encourages all media outlets to treat the elections with maximum attention”.

The non-legislative resolution is to be put to a vote by the full House in July.


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