No fate but what we make: 2014 European Parliament elections start

The European elections of 22-25 May 2014 give voters the chance to influence the future political course of the European Union when they elect the 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to represent their interests for the next five years. At that, political analysts predict a new eurozone crisis.

Voters in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are kicking off the European Union’s four-day elections, being the first to cast their ballots to elect the next European parliament. By this Sunday all 28 EU members will have voted and no doubt many different issues will have had an impact. But also important is the turn out reflecting whether the great European experiment is alive and well.

There have been 766 Members of the European Parliament since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 but this number is being scaled down at the 2014 elections to 751 and will stay at that level in future. These MEPs will represent over 500 million citizens in 28 member states. The seats are allocated among the various states, by the EU treaties, on the basis of ‘degressive proportionality’, meaning countries with larger populations have more seats than smaller ones but the latter have more seats than strict proportionality would imply.

One major new development is that, when the EU member states nominate the next president of the European Commission to succeed José Manuel Barroso in autumn 2014, they will – for the first time – have to take account of the European election results. The new Parliament must endorse this candidate: it ‘elects’ the Commission president, in the words of the Treaty. This means voters now have a clear say in who takes over at the helm of EU government.

Of the 13 European political parties, five have nominated a candidate to succeed the current Commission President. The EPP has nominated Jean-Claude Juncker, former Luxembourg prime minister and former Eurogroup president; the PES candidate Martin Schulz, current president of the European Parliament, is called his main rival.

Eurosceptic far-right parties that manifest dissatisfaction with the EU officials’ policy are expected to be among the winners, political analysts say. If far right gains ground it is … Mr Putin could be a winner in European parliamentary vote.

‘But one of the election’s biggest beneficiaries could be a man whose name isn’t on the ballot: Vladimir Putin. Even as mainstream European leaders sputter their condemnation of Russian aggression, voters appear poised to reward parties that make no secret of their fawning admiration for the way the Russian leader has defied the West and dismembered Ukraine,’ the Washington Post warns.

Meanwhile, the experts predict the light vote in the EP elections and joke that a party ‘I’m Staying at Home’ will win. The European Commission decided to draw people’s attention with the help of viral videos:

{movie}And then came a lot of sheep.|right|16557{/movie}

{movie}We are not Sexy and We Know It – European Elections Campaign|right|16558{/movie}

{movie}Happy Voting.|right|16559{/movie}

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