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Recently there have been elections in India, 'The world's biggest democracy'. This month we will have elections for the European Parliament - the worlds second biggest electorate. Electorates don't seem to take the European Parliament as seriously as their own parliament and will often use it as an opportunity for a protest vote. First past the post is not used in selecting winners so each constituency has multiple members and you are effectively voting for a party list rather than a particular candidate. There are 375 million voters selecting 766 members of Parliament.

See below for the parties competing and their relative strength.

See for details. A lot of what is below is summarised from that page.

The rules of the European Parliament are set up so that you can only get recognition as a group if you have 25 members from 7 different countries. This is to encourage parties to form international alliances rather than national blocks. Competing this year we have 7 different groups, each an alliance of parties in at least 7 different countries. From right to left these are:

Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). This seems to be more or less like the tea party. Their main policy is that they don't really trust the European Union and would like a lot (or all) of powers returned to the nations, particularly control over immigration from the newer, poorer EU nations (Bulgaria (don't say Turks) and Romania (don't say Gippos)). They got 4.3% of the vote and 32 seats last time.

European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR). These like more mainstream Republicans. The biggest party in this group are the UK Conservatives. Like the EFD they are suspicious of the EU and like to campaign as 'Euro skeptics' - promising a pragmatic review of European integration proposals in contrast with other parties which see working to build a better Europe as something worth doing. They got 7% of the vote and 57 seats last time.

European People's Party (EPP). These seem to be like the Democrats in the USA. A center right party but interested in keeping sensible regulation and welfare provisions and claiming to manage these better than the more left wing parties. They got 36% of the vote and 265 seats last time and were the biggest party.

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). This is a grouping of parties across Europe who self identify as Liberals. These actually have quite a range of opinions from - some tending to Libertarianism, others emphasising the  need to make sure everyone has a fair chance. Maybe this is the Elizabeth Warren wing of the US Democrat party. They got 11% of the vote and 84 seats last time making them the third largest group.

Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D). These are the mainline socialist and labor parties. Don't know who in the USA matches these. Bernie Sanders? They got 25% of the vote and 184 seats last time making them the second largest group.

The Greens–European Free Alliance (Greens-EFA). This groups together various Green, Separatist and Pirate parties. Whether they are to the left or to the right of the Socialists depends on how you look a it. They are better than the socialists on individual rights. The socialists tend to be tied closely to the unions. They got 7.5% of the vote and 55 seats last time - just ahead of the ECR for fourth place.

European United Left–Nordic Green Left (EUL-NGL). These are the various Communist and left parties. They got 4.8% of the vote and 35 seats last time, just ahead of the EFD.

According to Wikipedia (link above then scroll down) the polls say the EPP and S&D are neck and neck for first place with ALDE in third and the ECR and Greens neck and neck for fourth so some gains for the socialists but not a lot of change from last time. The vote will be on May 22, 23, 24 or 25 depending on which day of the week the various countries traditionally hold elections.

This probably means that, like last time, the legislation that the goes ahead is anything the PPD and the S&D can agree on. Committees in the European parliament do real scrutiny however and one of the perqs of being in a group (rather than an independent) is that the group gets members on those committees. A member who is prepared to do the work and research can have a real influence on the details in those committees.


Who would you vote for?

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| 13 votes | Vote | Results

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