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Enlightened Europism

European affairs of the present and future

Reform #2: Political system (vol. 1) – European electoral system

Introduction

Once the reformation of suffrage (see Reform #1) is accomplished – laying down the foundation of enlightened democracy –, the transformation of the united Europe’s (henceforward Republic of the United Europe or RUE) political system is the next priority. As any political system is complex and their institutions are interconnected, I am going to introduce the political system of the Republic of the United Europe in separate volumes, focusing on the European electoral system, the European Parliament, the European Government (and its ministries), and the European Presidential Council (including the President of the RUE).

In my previous article, I argued that the eligibility to vote and to stand for election must be radically redefined along certain principles. This volume is going to focus on the mechanism of how the votes of the enlightened public is going to translate into seats and power in the European institutions, introducing the reformation of the European electoral system – as the first step of the reformation of the European political system.

Principles

The European Parliament election procedures are based on European and national legislation. The common European rules explain the principle of proportional representation and certain incompatibilities with the MEP (Member of the European Parliament) mandate. The exact voting system used and the number of constituencies are governed by national laws, meaning that the electoral system of the European Union is far from unified, as it is in the nation-states’ authority to decide on the regulations – following only two loose European guidelines. The direct result of national control is major dissimilarities in voting age, compulsion in voting, threshold, and apportionment of seats – amongst others. However, the most concerning fact is the dearth of true European parties. Therefore, the European electoral system is in need of numerous fundamental amendments before it could serve as the RUE’s voting system.

The basic requirements to vote on European elections should be citizenship in any of the member states, age of sixteen, and certificate of eligibility (see Reform #1). Regarding the electoral system, most experts prefer the voting systems of mixed-member proportional and single transferable, which normally could be considered the best indeed. However, the Republic of the United Europe is going to be a very unique political entity, which has national and European institutions co-operating in symbiosis; therefore, could not adapt either of those voting systems. In my view, the best and most common electoral procedure is the application of party-list proportional representation in a transnational form (or transnational list), enabling only true European parties (henceforward pan-Europarties) to stand for election.

Regrettably, the current European parties are mere coalitions of national parties without European agendas and programmes, meaning that the national delegates of national parties stand for election, campaigning along national issues and interests. Therefore, only pan-Europarties should be permitted to stand for election, obligating them to nominate candidates (in accordance with Reform #1) in every single member state and to campaign only under the name (and symbols) of the pan-Europarty. The transnational representative system would require national parties to form broader European coalitions, thus creating pan-Europarties, which concentrate on existing universal European issues, seeking to find solutions to problems (e.g. wages, unemployment, illegal immigration, health care) by proposing programmes across Europe.

Another important principle is the abolishment of seat allocation based on population size in the European Parliament (or EP), making 800 seats available for distribution in the EP based on the pan-Europarties’ election results instead. Once these principles are translated into legal regulations, the voters are going to have the new opportunity of voting for a national branch of a pan-Europarty in either of their member state of origin or of residence (voting should take place on the same day in all member states).

Mechanism

In the transnational party-list proportional representative system, the actual number of votes in each member state is going to be irrelevant, as only the rate of election result and turnout are going to decide the final result. The pan-Europarties’ rate of support is determined by the total result in percentage divided by the number of member states, ignoring the actual number of votes. More specifically, at the elections of the Republic of the United Europe (consisting of 27 member states), the European Green Party gets 15% of the votes in nine, 10% in ten, and 5% in seven member states, whereas it does not get a single vote in one of the member states. In this case, the calculation is [(15×9)+(10×10)+(5×7)+(0x1)]/27=10, which means that the Greens gain 10% (80 seats) of the total seats available in the EP. As I find it necessary to introduce a mandatory 5% admission threshold, there would be occasional surplus votes, which must be divided proportionately between the qualified parties in accordance with the votes gained. As even the most powerful national parties would be unable to nominate candidates and launch campaigns in every single member state of the RUE – let alone reach an average of 5% election result –, they will have to unite, forming pan-Europarties on a supranational level.

The first phase of the electoral system determines the number of seats gained by the pan-Europarties in total, but it does not resolve the issue of internal seat allocation to the numerous national branches. In my view, internal seat allocation has to be decided by the rate of supporting voting age population (henceforward SVAP), which indicates the rate of those, who voted for the national branches of the pan-Europarties of all eligible to vote (and registered) in each member state. In order to get the rate of SVAP, the rate of turnout (rate of registered VAP that voted) must be multiplied by the rate of election results in each member state, and then divided by 100. Each pan-Europarty’s average of total rate of SVAP and average of total seats gained must be used to calculate a key figure, which can be applied to calculate the exact seat allocation of each national branch within each pan-Europarty.

In order to present the precise calculation, I am going to use the EPP’s election results from 2019 in the followings (see full table at the bottom). Applying my principles of transnational list, the EPP secured the 26.04% of total votes (national branches’ rate of election results in total, divided by the number of member states), which translates into 208 seats (800×0,2604) in the new European Parliament. The exact seat allocation of these 208 seats is going to be set by two directives: the rate of SVAP and the mandatory minimum MEP.

The higher the turnout, the more representative the election result is, when it is compared to the entire population. Therefore, a strong election result is not going to be enough in itself, unless it is backed by strong turnout figures. For instance, Germany’s CDU-CSU gained 28.90% of the votes, backed by a 61.38% turnout; whereas Luxembourg’s CSV gained only 21.10% of the votes in the 2019 EP election, but the turnout was at an outstanding 84.24%. The current electoral system ignores the figures of turnout completely, rewarding parties purely based on their election results, which deforms the image of real support behind the elected political party. Therefore, I find it vital to integrate turnout into the process of seat allocation, treating it equally important to election results in order to recognise the real support of a political party amongst the population (or the rate of SVAP).

The rate of SVAP is determined by the turnout multiplied by the election results, and divided by 100 – in each member state. In the case of Germany’s CDU-CSU, the calculation is (61.38×28.90)/100=17.74, which means that 17.74% of the population eligible to vote support the coalition. In the case of Luxembourg’s CSV, the calculation is (84.24×21.10)/100=17.77, which is a very similar figure to CDU-CSU’s, meaning that despite of the lower election results, significantly higher turnout in Luxembourg could turn around the overall results. The rate of SVAP is going to be the key figure, which determines the exact seat allocation amongst the national branches of the pan-Europarty. In order to simply, but accurately calculate the exact seat allocation, the figures of average of total rate of SVAP and of theoretical average seats per national branch need to be known – based on the pan-Europarty’s election results.

After the rate of SVAP is calculated in each member state, the total figure has to be divided by 27 (number of member states), which equals to 12.41. As previously mentioned, the EPP’s election results in 2019 would gain them 208 seats (or 208.32 to be precise) in the new EP of 800 seats. The figure of theoretical average seats per national branches can be simply extracted from the 208.32 (total seats gained), dividing it by 27, which equals to 7.71. The average rate of SVAP (12.41) divided by the theoretical average of total seats gained per member state (7.71) equals to the amount of rate of SVAP (1.61) worth one seat in the EP. The master key of 1.61 has to be applied in order to calculate the exact seats gained by each national branch within the pan-Europarty (in this case the EPP). The rate of SVAP divided by 1.61 equals to the exact seats gained by the national branches. In the case of Germany’s CDU-CSU, it is 17.74/1.61=11.02 (11 seats), whereas in the case of Luxembourg’s CSV, it is 17.77/1.61=11.04 (11 seats).

As explained, the second phase resolves the issue of internal seat allocation per national branch within the pan-Europarties, highlighting the importance of turnout coupled with election results; whilst eliminating the large power deficit between more and less populous member states. In the current system, which is based on population size and national interests, CDU-CSU has 29 seats, whereas CSV has only two seats in the EP. Regardless of the number people that turn up voting, parties can still claim chunks of seats based solely on election results, which is unacceptable in my opinion.

I find it important to add one more small legal condition to the mechanism of internal seat allocation: mandatory minimum MEP. The mandatory minimum MEP ensures that every national branch of the pan-Europarty can delegate at least one MEP, meaning that in case of an awful election result the national branch of the member state would not be excluded, thus unrepresented, in the EP (e.g. Estonia). In order to add an additional MEP without gained seat, one of the national branches of the pan-Europarty has to relinquish one seat, which could be decided by the pan-Europarty’s leadership (e.g. the national branch that gained the most seats could transfer one seat).

Conclusion

The reformed European electoral system is not only going to be truly European, introducing regulations related to pan-Europarties, transnational list, and nomination, but also more legitimate due to the inclusion of true representation based on the number of people that attend to vote, not only on the number of votes. In order to enhance legitimacy in the European Parliament, candidates are going to have to mobilise their voters, and make them interested in voting (e.g. comprehensive programmes). The neutralisation of national tone in the agendas, programmes, and campaigns is also essential, which I am going to mention more detailed in the following volume of the reformation of the political system: the European Parliament.

The electoral system of the Republic of the United Europe

The electoral system of the Republic of the United Europe



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