By Alastair Macdonald
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – These are numbers, key and not so key, that will feature in voting for the European Parliament on May 23-36:
EU citizens eligible to vote in their home state or the one of the other 27 EU countries they live in; from Thursday, May 23, when the British and Dutch cast ballots in line with national tradition, through Friday (Irish and Czechs), Saturday (Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, Czechs) to Sunday (everyone else). Only Indian elections give more people a democratic choice.
The proportion who actually took part in the last election in May 2014; that was down fractionally from 2009 and reflected an unbroken decline since 62 percent voted in the first direct election in 1979, with only nine member states. In Belgium, where voting is compulsory, it was 90 percent; in Slovakia, laggard of the ex-communist laggards, just 13 percent voted.
705, er, sorry 751
Members of the European Parliament. It should have been 705 due to Brexit but Britain has failed to leave the EU yet. When it does, 46 seats will be scrapped and 27 of Britain’s 73 will be reallocated to 14 other states.
96 versus 6
Number of seats Germany, the EU’s biggest country, has compared to four tiddlers, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta.
400,000 versus 40,000
The average number of votes cast needed win a seat in Italy is some 10 times that in Luxembourg. Small states punch above their weight. In some countries, minimum thresholds are a bar to small parties, but some voting systems can favour them. One Cypriot MEP got just 20,000 votes in 2014, while the MEP for Belgium’s 77,000 German-speakers was elected with less than 12,000. On average in 2014, each MEP was backed by 240,000 actual voters and represented about 550,000 registered electors.
12 times 2 makes 114 million
That’s the cost in euros a year of Parliament’s “two seats” policy, decreed in the original European treaty of the 1950s. MEPs and their staff decamp monthly from Brussels to the French city of Strasbourg, 400 km (250 miles) away, to hold plenary sittings. France wields its veto over any push to change the treaty rule, despite complaints from travel-weary lawmakers.
Vingt-quatre, fiche a ceathair, erbgha u ghoxrin – 24
Languages the Parliament works in. Brexit or no, English is likely to remain dominant. While MEPs can address colleagues via interpreters in their mother tongue — from German and French to Irish or Maltese — many use English to reach a wider public.
Legislative acts adopted in the 2014-19 parliament. Most pass at first reading, taking an average of 18 months. Those that need a further reading, as lawmakers tussle with EU member states and the executive Commission, took 40 months on average.
25 and a quarter
This is a key formula for allowing lawmakers to coalesce into a formal parliamentary group, entitled to special funding, a voice in managing the agenda, committee chairs and so on. A group must have at least 25 members from at least a quarter of member states, ie 7 out of 28 at present. There are eight groups today but lawmakers expect some reshuffling after the election.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald ; @macdonaldrtr; Editing by Peter Graff)