MEPs back plans to have younger people vote and be elected to the EU Parliament

A woman exits a voting cabin with curtains depicting the European Union in Baleni, Romania, May 26, 2019.
A woman exits a voting cabin with curtains depicting the European Union in Baleni, Romania, May 26, 2019. Copyright AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda
By Alice Tidey
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EU lawmakers have approved draft legislation to reform the bloc's parliamentary elections which they hope will lead to greater engagement and transparency.


European lawmakers have backed a proposal to reform the way they are elected which they say would allow citizens to have a greater say in how the European Union is run.

The draft legislation plans for European voters to cast two votes, one to elect MEPs in national constituencies and another to elect 28 additional MEPs that would have the whole EU as their constituency.

They also want voters to be able to elect the European Commission president with each political group in the parliament putting forward a candidate during the election. The top job would then be given to the nominee from the group that secured the most seats.

But the European Council is likely to push back on this proposal.

During the last European elections in 2019, each political group already put forward a so-called Spitzenkandidat only for leaders to ignore the EPP's choice, Manfred Weber, to install Ursula von der Leyen instead. 

Other proposals approved by MEPs this week include a quota system to boost the number of female candidates and MEPs and to open up candidacy to people as young as 18.

They also want to boost access by allowing people aged 16 to vote and by rolling out postal voting across the bloc to enable people with disabilities to cast their own ballot. According to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), an intergovernmental organisation that supports sustainable democracy worldwide, only eight member states allowed postal voting in 2020 either to some of the totality of their electorates.

MEPs are also calling for the election to be held on a single day bloc-wide — on May 9, also known as Europe Day — whereas, in 2019, member states held the elections across four days. 

Finally, they want a European Electoral Authority to be created to oversee the ballot and its process.

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