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The extraordinary right of citizens participates both in representative government - by electing the composition of state bodies, and in the selective exercise of direct state power - through its form of direct democracy. Suffrage is a fundamental constitutional political right that is based on the principles of popular sovereignty and political pluralism. The main purpose of elections is to provide a stable institutional framework for the expression of various political interests in representative government. As an objective law, electoral law is a system of effective legal norms that establish the political regime for the formation of electoral state bodies. As a subjective right, suffrage is a constitutionally recognized right of citizens to vote and be elected.

General principles

In general - the objective right to vote determines the electorate. This means that all adult citizens who meet the statutory criteria are given the right to participate in the elections, while not allowing the introduction of property, educational or other qualifications;



Equal - each voter has the right to one vote. The vote of one voter is equal to the vote of every other voter


Directly - with their vote, the voters directly determine the composition of the representative bodies




Suffrage is exercised in person and by secret ballot

Prerequisites for exercise


Citizenship is an absolute prerequisite. Only persons who are Bulgarian citizens can participate in the elections for people's representatives, president and mayor

Age Active electoral right - this is the right of citizens to participate in the electoral process by voting for certain parties and coalitions or candidates, i.e. the right of citizens to choose. In order to exercise this right, it is necessary for the persons to have reached the age of 18 on election day, including; not be placed under interdiction and not serve a sentence of "imprisonment"

 Passive suffrage – this is the right of every citizen to be elected. In order to exercise this right, the person should be a Bulgarian citizen and not hold any other citizenship, not be placed under interdiction, not serve penalty of "imprisonment" and by the election day, the following had been committed:

21 years - for people's representatives in the National Assembly and Great National Assembly assembly

40 years – for president and vice president

18 years – for municipal councilors and mayors

21 years – for members of the European Parliament


Electoral system

A system of legally established conditions, actions, constructions and techniques, which are carried out in a certain logical order in the process of preparing and holding elections and when reporting the result of the vote, through which voters express their political will for the constitution of representative state bodies.

Types of electoral systems


    It transforms the will of the electorate into a certain number of mandates through the principle of the majority;


The mandate is won by that candidate who won the most votes in the decisive round of the election;


In Bulgaria, elections for single-member bodies are held only by majority system (president, mayor)


                                    The formation of constituencies is of decisive importance

        According to the percentage barrier needed to determine the winner, we differentiate majoritarian system with:

               Absolute majority – the winner must win 50% + 1 vote, i.e. to defeat their opponents collectively. If none of the candidates received an absolute majority on the first ballot, a second round (runoff) is held, in which the two candidates with the most votes from the first round are admitted. The second round may have fewer candidates than the first. In the majoritarian electoral system with an absolute majority, in practice, in the first round one votes "for" a given candidate, while in the second round, insofar as the choice is reduced to only a few candidates, sometimes one can also vote "against" a given candidate - the voter votes for a given candidate whether he supports it or not, ie. vote for the lesser evil.
              Supermajority – the winner must defeat their opponents individually by getting the most votes


Majority system in parliamentary elections

          In the parliamentary elections, each electoral district broadcasts one or more people's representatives. Regions can be single-mandate (to broadcast one national representative) or multi-mandate (several national representatives. Thus, in single-mandate regions, the elections are held similarly to those for president or mayor. In multi-mandate regions, however, variations are observed depending on the number of votes available the voter, which is why we distinguish between a "limited vote system" and a "cumulative vote system." In the cumulative vote system, each voter has as many votes as the electoral district has the mandate, while in the limited vote system, the voter has a single vote.

     In the majoritarian system for people's representatives, the determination of electoral districts is extremely important. This is because the territory of the country is not evenly populated, the population is mainly concentrated in the big cities, which would lead to an unequal position of both candidates and voters, since voters from less populated areas will choose a candidate with more - few votes.



               The clear rules by which a winner is determined. This makes it easier for the voter to understand, while at the same time facilitating the election campaign of the parties, as the focus is shifted to the specific person for the specific constituency.

             The stable majority that is being created. Under this system, in most cases, the winning party can form a one-party government, which facilitates the passage of bills, as there is no need for coalition negotiations and the search for compromises.

             There is no need for barriers against the fragmentation of political parties. Usually, under this system, the trend of a bipolar political model and moderation of party messages is imposed in order to attract voters from the center.

        Candidates' personal qualities take precedence, not party affiliation. Thus, independent candidates who have strong influence in a given area but have no party affiliation have a better chance of winning a mandate.


      A major weakness of the majoritarian electoral system is the large percentage of votes in favor of the losing candidate that remain unrepresented. When an absolute majority system is applied, it is possible for a candidate to receive 50% plus one vote. In this situation, the remaining 49.9% of voters who exercised their right to vote remain without parliamentary representation. In a majority election in a single round with a relative majority, it is possible that the majority of voters did not vote for the candidate who received the mandate.

      In the majoritarian electoral system, it often leads to the formation of two large parties, which largely monopolize the outsiders. This makes it difficult for new parties to enter politics, which in turn makes it more difficult to introduce new topics into the political discourse.

    Furthermore, the majoritarian electoral system places a great deal of power in the hands of the administration. This is because the majority vote is dependent on the administrative districts, which is why in most cases the party that introduces the electoral system and distributes the electoral districts has a significant advantage in the next elections. It is possible for district boundaries to be redistributed to concentrate or disperse certain ethnic, religious or cultural groups, depending on which is more advantageous for the next election.





It transforms the will of the electorate into a "small picture" of the nation, accurately reflecting the political will of the voters. The territory of the country is divided into electoral districts, which are always multi-mandate and most often coincide with the administrative-territorial division. The proportional electoral system is used in elections for collective bodies, where parties and coalitions are voted for. Voters vote on the respective party lists, which can be dynamic or fixed – depending on whether the voter can change the initial arrangement. Electoral barriers are introduced, which do not allow fragmentation of mandates.

Methods of counting votes and their relation to the number of mandates

Electoral quota method – the price of the mandate is determined in the number of votes (x number of votes is equal to 1 mandate), which can be done in advance in the law or after the election

         Divisor method - the votes cast for each list are successively divided by a number of natural numbers and the resulting quotients determine the number of mandates



        Representation – every voice is effective and carries weight. In this way, unrepresented voices are not allowed to remain and one of the weaknesses of the majoritarian electoral system is overcome.


       It prevents the emergence of political majorities in parliament that do not correspond to the true preferences of the electorate, encouraging the formation of parliamentary majorities through negotiations and based on compromise and consensus.

           The danger of monopolization of political life in the country by a few large parties is overcome.

          Parsimony – no need to hold by-elections

Disadvantages ​

The relationship between voter and elected is broken, due to the mediating role of the political party and party lists. ​ It leads to excessive fragmentation of the parliamentary space and difficult creation of a stable government. ​ The methodologies for the distribution of mandates are quite complex and difficult for the common man to understand.


      The mixed electoral system is expressed in the fact that half of the mandates are formed on the majoritarian principle, while the other half on the proportional one. It applies to collective management bodies. The system has one main advantage, namely that it enables voters to simultaneously support individual parties and programs on the one hand and on the other - to indicate the persons who, in their opinion, possess the necessary qualities of rulers and have a place in power. This electoral system has been adopted in Germany and New Zealand.

Main characteristics

Purpose – to compensate for the shortcomings of majoritarian and proportional electoral systems ​ Advantage – ability to balance changes in political representation ​

Disadvantage – complex and unclear for voters

Organization and conduct of the elections in the Republic of Bulgaria

A system of procedural actions and necessary conditions implemented by politically capable entities in a strictly defined logical sequence, which result in the constitution of representative bodies from the electoral body


Scheduling of elections

Elections are held on a non-working day for the entire country. They are scheduled 60 days before election day, when:

​Expiration of the constitutionally defined mandate of the relevant authority

​Early termination of the mandate ​

Need for a second round or partial selection


Determining constituencies and sections

An electoral district is the territory from which people's representatives, the president, members of the European Parliament from the Republic of Bulgaria, municipal councilors and mayors are elected. Voting and counting of votes are carried out by polling stations, with up to 1,000 voters included in one station as a rule.

The electoral districts are:

          Single mandate – one candidate or one candidate pair is elected from the same candidate list

​         Multi-mandate – two or more candidates are elected. They are introduced during the elections for people's representatives, which are held according to the proportional electoral system. There are 31 multi-mandate electoral districts (MIR) in Bulgaria, which coincide with the territory of the regions according to the administrative division of Bulgaria and are numbered alphabetically. Exceptions are the areas with a larger population: Plovdiv, divided into 2 MIRs, as well as Sofia-city, divided into 3 MIRs

    Multi-mandate constituencies are used to facilitate the organization of other types of elections in Bulgaria. It should be borne in mind that in the elections for members of the European Parliament and in the elections for the president and vice president, the constituencies have only organizational functions, since the elections are national and the final result depends on the sum of the votes throughout the country.

       The number of mandates is distributed among the multi-mandate constituencies according to the number of Bulgarian citizens permanently living in them. Their number is established after a census by the National Statistical Institute. According to a methodology determined by the Central Electoral Commission, the number of mandates in the multi-mandate electoral districts (MIR) is determined on the basis of a single norm of representation for the whole country depending on the number of the population according to the population census data of the Republic of Bulgaria from 2001. The number of mandates in MIR cannot be less than 3.

Distribution of mandates in the country's constituencies



11 mandates



14 mandates



15 mandates



18 mandates



4 mandates



 6 mandates


 4 mandates



 6 mandates



 5 мандата



 4 mandates



 5 mandates



 5 mandates



9 mandates



 4 mandates


Plovdiv city

 11 mandates



 9 mandates


Plovdiv region

 11 mandates



4 mandates



 8 mandates



 4 mantades



 6 mandates

22 МИР


 4 мандата



 16 mandates



 12 mandates



 14 mandate


Sofia region

 8 mandates


Stara Zagora

 11 mandates



 4 mandate



 8 mandates



 6 mandates



 4 mandates

Formation of electoral commissions

Electoral commissions are organizational structures that prepare and produce elections. Various electoral commissions are appointed to conduct the elections, which are charged with various tasks.

Central Election Commission (CEC)


The CEC is an independent state body that is formed for the whole country and is permanently active. It consists of 18 members with a mandate of 5 years. Its main purpose is to control the implementation of electoral laws. It registers the parties, coalitions and organizations participating in the elections. Approves the compositions of the other commissions. Controls the registration of candidates for people's representatives by the regional election commissions. Announces the election results for the National Assembly. Acts of the regional election commission are appealed before it. ​

District Election Commissions (RDCs)

It is appointed by the CEC during elections for people's representatives, members of the European Parliament and the president. It is appointed not later than 50 days before the election day. RIC supervises the activities of the sectional election commissions. They register the lists of candidates in their district and their advocates. Summarize the results of the region and send the protocol to the CEC.

Municipal Election Commissions (MECs)

They are appointed by the CEC for each municipality during elections for municipal councilors and mayors. They control the activity of the sectional election commissions and, more specifically, they control the creation of the sectional election commissions, as well as the preparation of the electoral lists. They register the list of candidates for the election of municipal councilors, the candidates for mayors and their advocates. They announce the results of the elections. Their decisions can be appealed to the relevant regional court, whose decision is final.

Sectional Election Commissions (SECs)

RIC or OIC appoint electoral commissions for each electoral section not later than 25 days before the election day. The SEC organizes the voting. They take care of the lawful conduct of the voting. They draw up minutes with the voting results. Meetings are held in the presence of a simple quorum, and decisions are taken with a qualified majority of 2/3.

Sectional election commissions outside the country


In elections for people's representatives, members of the European Parliament and the president, the CEC appoints the CEC for each electoral section outside the country no later than 12 days before the election day.

Observers, advocates and representatives

They participate in the electoral process to ensure its lawful and democratic conduct.


Observers have the right to be present at the meetings of the election commissions, as well as at the printing and delivery of the paper ballots. They also have the right to be present at the receipt of the election papers and materials, at the preparation of the voting premises and at the installation of the technical devices for machine voting. Observers have the right to be present in the polling station at the opening and closing of the election day, during the voting, at the opening of the ballot boxes and at the establishment of the results of the voting, for which they are provided with direct visibility, as well as at the delivery of the ballots, the rest books and materials of the commissions.

Observers carry out their activities from their registration until the next elections of the same type are scheduled. It is important to note that the total number of observers registered by one non-governmental organization cannot exceed the number of polling stations in the country. ​ Observers are registered by the Central Election Commission until election day. Observers may not receive remuneration for their activities from parties, coalitions, initiative committees and their candidates.


Advocates support and represent the interests of candidates in the candidate lists of parties, coalitions and initiative committees before state and local authorities, public organizations and electoral commissions. The advocate has freedom of expression and campaigning in oral and written form at pre-election meetings, as well as through media service providers.

The advocate has the right to support candidates from the candidate list of a party, coalition or initiative committee in the electoral district and represent their interests. In addition, the advocate has the right to be present at the meetings of the election commissions, as well as at the receipt of the election documents and materials and the preparation of the voting premises. He has the right to be present in the polling station at the opening and closing of the election day, to be present in the polling station during the voting, at the opening of the ballot boxes and at the establishment of the results of the voting, for which he is provided with direct visibility, as well as to is present at the introduction and re-introduction in the election commissions and in the calculation points of the data from the protocols with the voting results of the sectional election commissions.

Общият брой на застъпниците на всяка кандидатска листа на партия, коалиция и инициативен комитет не може да надвишава броя на избирателните секции в съответния изборен район. 

One candidate list can be represented by one advocate in one polling station on election day. In elections for municipal councilors and for mayors, the lists of candidates for municipal councilors and for mayors of the same party or coalition may be jointly represented by one advocate in one polling station on election day. ​ Advocates are registered until election day on the basis of an application signed by the person representing the party or coalition, respectively the person representing the initiative committee.


The representatives of the parties, coalitions and initiative committees have the right to be present in the polling station at the opening and closing of the election day, during the voting, as well as at the opening of the ballot boxes and at the establishment of the voting results, for which they are provided with direct visibility . Only one representative of a party, coalition and initiative committee that has registered candidates may be present in a polling station on election day. The total number of party, coalition and initiative committee representatives cannot exceed the number of polling stations in the respective electoral district. Each party, coalition or initiative committee prepares a list of persons authorized to represent them on election day.

Nomination and registration of candidates

An unlimited number of candidates can be nominated. Subjects of the right to nominate candidates are the various political parties, coalitions, public organizations, citizens, who must register with the Sofia City Court and the CEC. This constitutes and legitimizes them as subjects of the electoral process (the right to nominate candidates and other actions related to the preparation and conduct of the elections). Registration takes place no later than 30 days before the elections. The CEC's refusal to register can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of the Republic of Bulgaria, whose decision is final.

Voters, through their own initiative committee (5 - 7 persons), which is registered with the RIC, can nominate independent candidates for people's representatives. For president and vice president, registration is before the CEC. For municipal councilors and mayors - OIC. The collected signatures are grounds for registering the candidates: for president - 5,000 signatures are required; for people's representatives - 2 thousand; for municipal councilors and mayors - 500.

An unlimited number of candidates can stand in multi-member constituencies. A different number of people's representatives are elected from each constituency, as the regions have different populations. Candidate lists are prepared by the political parties and coalitions, which determine the order of the candidates. A candidate can be registered in a maximum of two election lists of one party or coalition. More candidates than the mandates in the constituency can be included. The registration of the candidate lists is carried out in the RIC no later than 30 days before the election. Registered candidates enjoy immunity.




Voting is general, equal, direct, secret, personal.

Held on a non-working day between 6am and 7pm. ​The opening of the polling stations takes place in the presence of more than 1/2 of the members of the relevant SEC. If there is no quorum by one part of the beginning of the election day, the reserve members are included. All items are checked for availability and serviceability. Candidates, advocates, journalists, etc. can attend. ​ When voting, the voter certifies his identity with an identity card or military ID card. In the event of a significant violation of the election procedure, the sectional committee may suspend voting until the violation is remedied.

Determination of election results

The final phase of the elections.

In 2021, mandatory machine voting was introduced in Bulgaria in polling stations in the country with 300 and more voters. Exceptions are foreseen, which is why paper ballots are also printed. For example, paper ballots are used to vote in the following cases: 1. in polling stations with less than 300 voters; 2. when voting with a mobile ballot box; 3. in polling stations in medical facilities, homes for the elderly and other specialized institutions for the provision of social services, as well as in polling stations in places of deprivation of liberty and detention; 4. in electoral sections of vessels flying the Bulgarian flag. In addition, paper ballots are also used in unforeseen circumstances when machine voting proves impossible.

After the end of the election day, the election results are counted in each SEC. The SIK draws up a protocol, in which the following are sequentially entered: the number of ballots found in the ballot boxes and the number of confirmed votes from machine voting; the number of invalid votes; the number of actual votes for all candidate lists; the number of votes cast for each candidate list; the number of submitted applications, objections, appeals and the decisions taken on them.


The protocol printed by the voting machines is attached to the protocol completed by the SMC and is an integral part of it.

Protocols are drawn up in triplicate. The chairman of the commission announces the result. Copies are submitted to the RIC, which summarizes the protocols from the SIC. The minutes of the RIC and a copy of the minutes of the CEC are sent to the CEC, where the results of the country are calculated.


Allocation of mandates

Only the parties and coalitions that received more than 4% of the actual votes participate in the allocation of mandates. In addition to the national level, the mandates of the people's representatives are also distributed by regions. Therefore, it is necessary for the regions to determine the electoral quotas. An independent candidate is considered elected if he receives actual votes corresponding to the electoral quota. The quota is determined when the number of actual votes is divided by the number of mandates.

The election of the president, vice-president and mayors is carried out according to the majority system. The election is valid if more than 1/2 of the voters participated. The candidate who received more than 1/2 of the actual votes is considered elected. Second round - the two who received the most votes from the first round compete. The one who received the most votes is considered elected.

The largest remainder method, also known as the Hare-Niemeier method, is used in the distribution of mandates in Bulgaria. It is a way of allocating mandates between political parties when holding elections under a proportional electoral system with candidate lists. For the first time, the method was used in Bulgaria during the elections for members of the European Parliament from the Republic of Bulgaria in 2007.

The largest remainder method requires that the number of votes received by each party be divided by the so-called Hare quota, which ensures that in allocating seats the sum of the preliminary seats won will not exceed the number of seats to be allocated, as in in the perfect case, there will be no mandate left for reapportionment. The quota is calculated according to the following formula:



Where: votes is the total number of votes and seats is the number of seats to be allocated. ​ Using the quota allows the results not to be affected by whether the party has a large or small share of the total vote. Whether a party will receive an additional mandate or not depends on the distribution of only the remainders, i.e. the distribution of votes for the unallocated mandates. ​ The largest remainder method is developed to satisfy the quota. However, in some extreme cases it is possible to get unexpected distortions in the results, the so-called paradoxes.



Image by Guillaume Périgois

The procedures for electing the European Parliament are regulated both by European legislation, which establishes common rules for all member states, and by special national regulations, different for each member state. The general provisions establish the principle of proportional representation, rules on thresholds and certain cases of incompatibility with the mandate of a member of the European Parliament. Many other important matters, for example the specific electoral system and the number of constituencies, are regulated in detail in national laws.

Historical review

The European Parliament originates from the General Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The assembly was subsequently renamed the "European Parliament". Over the years, the institution has undergone profound changes: from an assembly whose members are appointed, it has become an elected parliament with a recognized role in setting the political agenda of the European Union.

Following the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), the ECSC General Assembly was expanded to become an assembly of the three communities. Composed of 142 members, the new assembly held its first meeting in Strasbourg on 19 March 1958 as the "European Parliamentary Assembly". On 30 March 1962, it was renamed the "European Parliament".

Before the introduction of direct elections, members of the European Parliament were appointed by each of the national parliaments of the member states, thus all MEPs had a dual mandate.

Act of 20 September 1976 on the election of representatives to the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage At the high-level meeting held in Paris on 9 and 10 December 1974, it was decided to hold direct elections in or after 1978. Parliament was tasked with presenting new proposals for a draft convention along these lines. Thus, at a meeting held on July 12 and 13, 1976, the Member States, overcoming a number of differences, reached an agreement and signed the Act of September 20, 1976 on the election of representatives to the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage.

Number of members

      First enlargement – ​​on 1 January 1973, Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the community, bringing the number of MEPs to 198 ​ Second enlargement – ​​on January 1, 1981, Greece joined. The Greek Parliament appoints 24 Greek MEPs, who in October 1981 are replaced by directly elected MEPs ​ Third enlargement - 1 January 1986 Spain and Portugal joined. The number of MEPs at this point increased to 518

           Reunification of Germany - in view of the demographic change that has occurred, the EP adopts a resolution of 10 June 1992 - Uniform electoral procedure: scheme for the distribution of seats for members of the European Parliament. Thus, for the MEP elections held in 1994, the number of members increased to 567

       Fourth enlargement – ​​the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia join. The number of members of the EP increased to 626 people

     Nice Intergovernmental Conference in 2000 - introduced a new distribution of seats in the Parliament, which was applied for the first time in the 2004 EP elections. The maximum number of members of the EP becomes 732

         The accession of Bulgaria and Romania - on 1 January 2007. The number of seats in the EP was temporarily increased to 785 to accommodate MEPs from these countries

          The Treaty of Lisbon - sets the maximum number of members of the EP, namely 751 (750 members plus the President). Citizen representation is regressively proportional, with a minimum threshold of 6 representatives per member state, with no member state having more than 96 seats.

           Regressive proportionality - although the total number of seats is determined based on the size of the member state's population, more populous member states agree to be under-represented to encourage greater representation of less populous member states. i.e. the larger the state, the smaller the number of seats as a proportion of its population

          The accession of Croatia - on 1 July 2013 the maximum number of seats was temporarily increased to 766 to accommodate the 12 Croatian MEPs

          Withdrawal of the United Kingdom (1 February 2020) - on a proposal from the EP, on 28 June 2018 the European Council adopted a decision to determine the composition of the European Parliament after the 2019 elections. The total number of seats was reduced from 751 to 705, with the number of MEPs to be elected in each Member State is as follows: Germany — 96; France — 79; Italy — 76; Spain — 59; Poland — 52; Romania — 33; Netherlands — 29; Belgium, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic — 21 each; Austria — 19; Bulgaria — 17; Finland, Denmark and Slovakia — 14 each; Ireland — 13; Croatia — 12; Lithuania — 11; Latvia and Slovenia — 8 each; Estonia — 7; Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta - 6 each. The United Kingdom elected 73 MEPs. Since his withdrawal, 21 mandates have been distributed among some of the member states, and the remaining 46 have been kept as a "reserve" in case of possible future enlargement of the EU.


In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty stipulated that elections should be conducted according to a uniform procedure and that the European Parliament should draw up a proposal to that effect, subject to unanimous approval by the Council. However, since the Council could not agree on any of the proposals, the Treaty of Amsterdam introduced the possibility of adopting "general principles". Accordingly, the Act on the election of Members of the European Parliament of 1976 was amended by Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom of the Council of 25 June and 23 September 2002, introducing the principle of proportional representation and a number of incompatibilities between national and European mandate.

The latest amendments to the Act on the election of Members of the European Parliament of 1976, adopted by Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/994 of 13 July 2018, include provisions on the possibility of different voting methods (advance voting, electronic voting , internet voting and postal voting); thresholds; the protection of personal data; sanctioning "double voting" by national legislation; voting in third countries and the possibility of visibility of European political parties on ballots.

With the Treaty of Lisbon, the right of citizens to vote and be elected acquires the status of a fundamental right (Article 39 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union).

General provisions

           Right of persons of different nationality to vote and be elected - every citizen of the Union residing in a Member State of which he is not a citizen has the right to vote and be elected in the elections to the European Parliament in the Member State where he resides, as long as the same not be deprived under the law of the Member State of residence or the law of the Member State of origin of the right to be elected

             Electoral system - as amended by the Election of Members of the European Parliament Act 1976. European elections must be based on proportional representation and use either the list system or the single transferable vote system. Member States may also allow voting based on a preferential list system. The latest amendments to the Act on the election of Members of the European Parliament of 1976, adopted by Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/994, establish a mandatory minimum threshold of between 2% and 5% for constituencies (including Member States with only one constituency) with more than 35 seats in Member States using the list system. Member States will have to fulfill this requirement by the 2024 elections at the latest. According to this decision, Member States can also provide for the possibility of advance voting, postal voting, electronic voting and internet voting. In this case, they must guarantee in particular the reliability of the results, the secrecy of the vote and the protection of personal data.

         Incompatibility of mandate - the quality of a member of the European Parliament is incompatible with that of a member of the government of a member state, member of the Commission, judge, advocate general or secretary of the Court of Justice of the EU, member of the Court of Auditors, member of the Economic and Social Committee, member of committees or other bodies established under the Treaties for the purpose of managing the funds of the Union or with a view to the performance of permanent administrative duties, a member of the Board of Directors, of the Management Committee or an employee of the European Investment Bank, as well as an acting official or employee of the institutions of the European Union or any of their specialized bodies.

National regulations

The electoral system can be defined as polymorphic, insofar as the electoral procedures are governed by national regulations, which can differ significantly. ​


         Electoral system and thresholds - all member states must apply a system based on proportional representation. Not all Member States currently apply thresholds. Currently, they are introduced only in France, Belgium, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Latvia and Hungary (5%); Austria, Italy and Sweden (4%); Greece (3%) and Cyprus (1.8%)

     Constituency boundaries - in European elections, most member states function as a single constituency. However, the national territory of four Member States (Belgium, Ireland, Italy and Poland) is divided into several regional constituencies

          Right to vote - the voting age is 18 in all Member States, except Austria and Malta, where it is 16, and Greece, where it is 17. Voting is compulsory in five Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Greece): the obligation to vote applies both to nationals of the country and to registered persons who are EU citizens

          Right to vote of persons who are not nationals of the host country - citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals have the right to vote in the elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in which they reside, under the same conditions, as well as the citizens of this country. Although this general principle is introduced in Article 22 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, some member states, in accordance with their national legislation, may introduce additional requirements, such as: for voters to have a permanent address or habitual residence within the electoral territory ( Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Slovenia), to be habitually resident there (Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Sweden) or to be entered on the electoral rolls (Belgium and the Czech Republic). To be eligible to vote in some countries (e.g. Luxembourg and Cyprus), EU citizens must also meet a minimum period of residence requirement. In all member states, citizens of other EU countries must register to vote before election day. The registration deadlines are different in different Member States.


        Right to vote for citizens of one Member State residing in another Member State in the Member State of origin - almost all Member States provide the possibility to vote from abroad in the European elections. In some Member States, voters are required to register with the relevant national electoral authorities in order to vote from abroad by post or at an embassy or consulate. In other Member States, postal voting may take place at embassies or consulates. In some Member States, the right to vote abroad is granted only to citizens living in another Member State (Bulgaria and Italy). In addition, most Member States take special measures for diplomats and military personnel serving abroad. The fact that some non-nationals can vote both in the host country and as nationals of their country of origin may lead to abuses, namely double voting, which is a criminal offense in some by the Member States. In this regard, the latest amendments to the Act on the election of Members of the European Parliament of 1976, adopted by Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2018/994, require Member States to ensure that double voting in European Parliament elections is applied effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

        Right to stand for election - any person who is a citizen of the Union and is not a citizen of the State of residence, but meets the same conditions in respect of the right to stand as those which the State imposes by law on its citizens, is entitled to stand for election to the European Parliament in the Member State of residence, unless deprived of these rights. No one can stand as a candidate in more than one Member State during the same election. The minimum age for passive voting is 18 years in most Member States, except Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia (21 years), Romania (23 years) and Italy and Greece (25 years) .

      Nominations - In some Member States, only political parties and political organizations can nominate candidates. In other Member States, applications can be made if they are supported by the required number of signatures or voters, and in some cases a deposit is also required.

         Election dates - European Parliament elections take place in the same time period, starting on Thursday morning and ending on Sunday, with the exact date and times determined by each member state.

           Voters' options to change the order of candidates on the lists - in most Member States, voters can cast preferential votes to change the order of names on the lists. Nevertheless, in six Member States (Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, Hungary and Romania) the lists are closed (no preferential voting). In Malta and Ireland, voters nominate candidates in their preferred order (one transferable vote).

          Filling early vacancies - in some Member States, vacancies are allocated to the first unelected candidates on the same list (possibly after reshuffling to reflect the votes received by individual candidates). In other Member States, the vacant seats are distributed among the alternates, and if there are no alternates, the ranking of the candidates on the lists is the decisive criterion. In other Member States, MEPs have the right to return to the European Parliament after the reason for their departure is no longer relevant.

Organization of the EP


Members of the EP elect a chairman from among their members for a term of two and a half years, renewable. The chairman has the following powers: - represents the Parliament in relation to the outside world and in its relations with the other EU institutions - leads the debates in the plenary hall and ensures that the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament are observed - participates in the meetings of the European Council, presenting the point of view of the EP - signs the EU budget - jointly with the Chairman of the Council signs all legislative acts adopted according to the ordinary legislative procedure

Plenary session

It meets in Strasbourg every month (except August), for a four-day session from Monday to Thursday. Additional monthly sessions are held in Brussels. The seats of the members of the EP in the plenary hall are allocated according to politics, from left to right, in agreement with the chairmen of the political groups. The European Commission and the Council of the European Union participate in the meetings to facilitate cooperation between the institutions in the decision-making process. If Parliament so requests, the representatives of the two institutions may also be called upon to make a statement or report on their activities.

Political bodies

The political bodies of the EP include: Bureau - the chairman and 14 vice-chairmen Council of Presidents - the President of the Parliament and the presidents of the political groups Five quaestors - are responsible for administrative and financial matters affecting members of the EP Council of Committee Chairs Council of Chairmen of Delegations The mandate of the president, vice-presidents and quaestors, as well as the presidents of committees and delegations is two and a half years

Committees and delegations

MEPs form 20 committees, 3 subcommittees and 39 delegations (inter-parliamentary delegations and delegations in joint parliamentary committees, parliamentary cooperation committees and delegations to multilateral parliamentary assemblies). Parliament also sends a delegation to the Joint Assembly established under the agreement between African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the EU. Parliament may also set up special committees or commissions of inquiry. Each committee or delegation elects its own bureau, consisting of a chairman and up to four vice-chairmen.

Political groups

MEPs do not sit in national delegations, but form transnational groups according to their political orientation. Each political group must consist of members elected by at least a quarter of the Member States, and its membership must be at least 23. The political groups hold regular meetings during the week before the monthly session and during the week of the session, as well as seminars during which they define the guiding principles of their activities.

European political parties and foundations

The following European parties currently exist: European People's Party, Party of European Socialists, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, European Green Party, Party of European Conservatives and Reformists, Party of the European Left, Identity and Democracy Party, European Democratic Party , the European Free Alliance and the European Christian Political Movement. The parties work closely with the relevant political groups in the European Parliament.

Some of the most important European political foundations include: the Wilfrid Martens Center for European Studies, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, the European Liberal Forum, the Green European Foundation, the Institute of European Democrats, Transform Europe and the New Deal Foundation for European Reform.

Secretariat of the EP 

It is headed by the Secretary General, who is appointed by the Bureau. The composition and organization of the secretariat is also determined by the Bureau. Its task is to coordinate legislative activity and organize plenary sessions and meetings. It also provides technical, legal and expert assistance to parliamentary bodies and Members of Parliament to assist them in fulfilling their mandate. The Secretariat provides interpretation and translation for all meetings and official documents

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