Representation and democracy 2024 European elections: how the thresholds work in EU countries In Italy, it is discussed to reduce the barrier in favor of smaller parties to 3%. No threshold in 13 Member States

The idea of ​​lowering the threshold of candidate parties in the European elections to be held in June 2024 divides the Italian political world. There are those who see it as a government aid to potential future allies (read Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva), but there are also those who see it as an attempt to support the smaller forces of the opposition influencing the seats of the Pd and M5s. Whatever the reason, this isn’t the first time Italy has debated whether to use such a high threshold (or a barrier in general) for the European vote. As a result, almost half of the 27 EU member states do not foresee a choice barrier to be overcome.

The controversy is not just in Italy. Lawyers, political scientists and international organizations have wondered for some time whether dams are compatible with democratic principles, particularly those that protect minority representation. Not to be confused with the EU, the Council of Europe, an institution concerned with the promotion of democracy and human rights at the European and international level, recommended in 2007 its member states to maintain a threshold not exceeding 3% in parliamentary elections. To allow the widest possible political representation of the population, “the exclusion of groups of people from their right to representation is detrimental to the democratic system”.

Estimated thresholds (thresholds) for European elections in EU countries (Source: Eprs)

The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, considers that a threshold above 5% is problematic, while barriers of 3% to 5% are acceptable provided other guarantees of representation of national minorities are implemented. The European Union sets a limit of 5% for the election of Eurochamber deputies as the maximum limit that 27 member states must comply with in their national laws.

This maximum threshold is applied by 9 Member States (Czech Republic, France, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia). In fact, there is an additional 7% threshold for lists combining multiple parties in Lithuania. In Cyprus the barrier stands at 1.8%, while in Italy the barrier is 4%, as in Sweden and Austria. Greece, on the other hand, is the only EU country with a 3 percent disability and these days the threshold is being discussed around Palazzo Chigi and Montecitorio.

Thresholds (thresholds) for European elections in EU countries (Source: Eprs)

Election thresholds for the 2024 European elections

As we have said, revision of the threshold is not the first time in Italy: A year before the last European elections, the Council of State raised the issue by questioning the 4% limit in its opinion. would violate the “principles of representative voting and voting equality” in the absence of general reasons of interest that could justify it. In its response, the Constitutional Court ruled that such thresholds are legitimate as they serve to ensure the stability of the government and the proper functioning of the parliamentary assembly.

The 13 countries of the bloc disagree; To name the largest, among them Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Poland: there is no threshold here. Proposals to introduce such a proposal have been made in Germany over the years, but in 2011 German Consulta published a resolution that effectively blocked its implementation, at least in terms of the European Parliament elections: Contrary to what was determined by Italian judges, the Germans were convinced that thresholds could help keep governments stable. pointed out that although true, only members of the Eurochamber were elected in the European elections. There is no permission to create any admin so far. The EU government (i.e. the European Commission) is appointed by the governments of the member states.

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Source: Today IT

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