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The 2024 European elections are not just a political event; they are the heartbeat of European democracy. As nations from Malta to Sweden prepare to vote, many wonder what changes these elections will bring.

This guide cuts through the complexity, offering a clear overview of what to expect, the key dates, and the issues driving the vote—all essential for understanding how these elections will chart Europe’s course.

Key takeaways

  • The 705 MEPs of the European Parliament, representing a diverse range of electoral systems from all EU nations, are crucial in shaping policies amidst global challenges like Brexit, the war in Ukraine, and the US presidential election.
  • Innovations in voting practices, such as early voting in Portugal and Malta, aim to increase electoral participation and ensure inclusivity by allowing citizens who are unable to vote on the official polling day to cast their ballots.
  • Enhanced gender representation in the EU Parliament has seen women’s presence rise to 40%, with gender quotas in some member states fostering this growth and emphasizing the EU’s drive towards equality in decision-making.

Navigating the 2024 European elections landscape

As the custodian of democratic legitimacy, the European Parliament stands as a beacon of European democracy, with its 705 elected representatives shaping policies that affect millions. These members of the European Parliament, hailing from the sun-kissed shores of Malta to the expansive landscapes of Sweden, are chosen through a kaleidoscope of electoral systems, each country bringing its own flavour of proportional representation to the table.

Amidst a backdrop of geopolitical tremors – the echoes of Brexit still lingering, the war in Ukraine forging on, and a watchful eye kept on the US presidential election – the EU Parliament elections in June 2024 are set against a canvas of global significance. As political groups rally and debates intensify, the question on everyone’s lips is which political group will stand victorious? Predictive whispers from the corridors of POLITICO suggest a reshuffling of the political deck, with new candidates poised to chart a fresh course for the eu parliament.

This electoral dance is not confined to a single day but spans four days, enabling citizens across Europe to elect their champions. From the bustling cities of Belgium and the Netherlands to the tranquil towns of the Mediterranean, the elections are organised to reflect a unity in diversity, ensuring that every voice has a chance to be heard. As the world watches, Europe prepares to make a statement, not only about its present but its unwavering commitment to a democratic future.

Early voting in Portugal and Malta

People voting in European elections

Portugal’s sun-drenched landscapes and Malta’s azure waters share more than just tourist appeal; they are pioneers of inclusive voting practices in the European Union. Addressing the stark 68.6% abstention rate from 2019, Portugal embraced early voting, casting a wider net to capture the will of its people. In Malta, the doors of democracy opened early for those who would otherwise be silenced on the official polling day, due to travels or health constraints.

This strategic move in Portugal allows every eligible voter the opportunity to participate, with a registration process preceding the action of casting a ballot one tranquil Sunday, a week before the election frenzy. The motive is clear: to galvanise a nation, to stoke the fires of European democracy, ensuring that every voice, from the bustling streets of Lisbon to the tranquil villages of the Algarve, is heard.

As for Malta, the early vote is an olive branch to the bedridden and the globe-trotting citizens, ensuring their right to vote is not curtailed by circumstance. It’s a testament to the island’s commitment to European democracy and a challenge to the larger nations – can they too adapt to ensure no one is left behind? The ripple effect of these inclusive voting practices is yet to be fully realised, but the initial waves are promising, carrying the potential to reshape the landscape of European elections.

Business climate changes: The Portuguese and Maltese advantage

Navigating through the European elections, one cannot overlook the implications on the business climate, particularly in nations like Portugal and Malta. The winds of change brought by a new European Commission may chart a course towards new legislative priorities, altering the business environment in these Mediterranean havens. Entrepreneurs and investors, drawn by the allure of favorable conditions, have found fertile ground in these countries for seeding their ambitions.

The 5% corporation tax rate, a beacon of financial incentive, has been pivotal in attracting a fleet of businesses to Portugal and Malta’s shores, allowing them to anchor in a harbor of increased profitability. This figure, envied by many, is not simply a number on a ledger; it represents a strategic advantage that can tip the scales in the ever-competitive world of international business.

As voters consider their options at the ballot box, the implications on the Strasbourg-based institution’s direction and, consequently, their nation’s economic prospects weigh heavily on their minds. The question remains: will the elected MEPs continue to foster an environment conducive to business growth, or will the tides turn towards a different economic philosophy? The business community in Portugal and Malta, along with the rest of Europe, watches with bated breath as the outcome may also impact other EU institutions.

Women in Power: gender representation

Gender representation in the EU Parliament

The march towards gender equality has found its rhythm within the European Parliament, where the presence of women has surged from a mere 15.9% to a commendable 40% by 2024. This shift towards balance is not just a statistic; it’s a narrative of progress, a story of breaking glass ceilings and redefining leadership within the EU institutions.

In the current plenary session, the halls of power resonate with the voices of women, with six of the fourteen vice-presidents bringing a female perspective to the table. Such representation emboldens the European democracy, ensuring that the final vote echoes the diverse voices of its citizens. The commission president, along with the mechanisms behind this transformation, are gender quotas, with countries setting the bar high – Portugal, Greece, and Spain at 40%, and Poland not far behind at 35%.

As the EU Parliament assembles in the plenary sessions, the presence of these women does more than just fulfil a quota; it embodies the principle of equal footing. Their contributions shape the labyrinth of legislation that winds through the EU institutions – from the commission president’s office in Brussels to the committee meetings that punctuate the parliamentary term. As member states watch, the EU sets a precedent for parliaments around the world, underscoring the importance of women in positions of influence and decision-making.

Digital democracy: the rise of electronic and postal voting

Digital democracy and electronic voting

In the digital age, democracy too has evolved, embracing the convenience and reach of technology. Estonia stands as a pioneer, the lone EU country that has opened the gates to electronic voting, while a cadre of thirteen others, including Germany and the Nordic nations, offer the option of postal voting. This evolution in voting methods speaks to a democratic legitimacy that is directly elected by the people, regardless of the barriers of distance and time.

The tapestry of postal voting is woven with various strands, including:

  • Traditional mail
  • Hand-delivered ballots
  • Provisions for expatriates
  • Provisions for those with disabilities

These provisions are a testament to the European Union’s commitment to an inclusive European democracy, where every final vote is not only cast but also counted with the utmost integrity, in line with international agreements.

To safeguard this sanctity, member states have enacted stringent laws, focusing on ballot secrecy and erecting barriers against the spectre of voter fraud. The commitment to democracy is clear, and as the EU Parliament’s current president champions the cause of digital democracy, the horizon of social media debates and amendments to election laws sparkles with potential.

The question remains: how will electronic and postal voting transform the face of European elections?

The youth Vote: lowering the age barrier in EU elections

The future of the European Union rests in the hands of its youth, and recognising this, countries like Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Malta have lowered the voting age to 16, embracing approximately 1.7 million young voices into the electoral fold. This shift is not just about numbers; it’s a policy revolution, a commitment to nurturing a new generation of European democracy stewards.

The lowered age barrier serves as a gateway for young EU citizens, empowering them to wield influence over decisions that will shape their lives, from the EU budget to the international stage. The ripple effect of such policies is palpable, as youth participation breathes new life into the elections, infusing them with fresh ideas and perspectives, while also guarding against potential foreign interference.

As the youth take their place at the voting booths, the European Union sends a powerful message: the voices of its youngest are not only heard but valued. The inclusion of these vibrant contributors to the EU parliament reflects a growing recognition that the seeds of democracy must be planted early, and nurtured with the waters of engagement and education.

Mandatory voting: compulsion or encouragement?

The concept of mandatory voting presents a conundrum: should democracy compel its citizens to participate, or should the act of voting remain a right to be exercised at will? In the European Union, mandatory voting has the potential to reshape the electoral landscape, possibly levelling the playing field across socioeconomic lines. Yet, alongside increased turnout lies the spectre of uninformed voters and the spectre of invalid or random votes.

The ripple effect of compulsory voting extends to the strategies of political parties, prompting them to recalibrate their compass to attract a wider berth of votes. In countries like Belgium and Luxembourg, the mandate to vote is enshrined in law, yet the sails of enforcement rarely catch wind – a nod to the delicate balance between encouragement and compulsion.

As the European Union grapples with the questions of democratic engagement and voter participation, the practice of mandatory voting stands as a testament to the complexities of modern-day democracy. Whether it functions as a tool to bolster participation or a symbol of democratic commitment, its presence in EU elections continues to stir debate and reflection among citizens and legislators alike.

Summary

As the journey through the European Elections of 2024 concludes, the landscape ahead appears as diverse and dynamic as the continent itself. From the strategic inclusion of early voting in Portugal and Malta to the progressive strides in gender representation, the EU Parliament reflects a microcosm of the broader European democracy. The advent of digital democracy and the engagement of the youth signal a future that is both inclusive and forward-thinking.

The insights gleaned from this guide illuminate the intricate workings of the elections, the significance of each vote, and the ripple effects of policies on the business climate and societal norms. As the final vote is cast and the newly elected representatives take their seats, the European Union stands poised at the threshold of a new era, one shaped by the collective will and aspirations of its people.

Let this be a clarion call to all who hold Europe’s destiny dear: the power of change lies within the grasp of each ballot. May the spirit of unity and democratic engagement continue to flourish, echoing through the corridors of eu institutions and into the annals of history. For in this shared journey, every voice contributes to the chorus that defines the European Union’s future.

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