Legislation governing elections
to the European Parliament

Directorate-General for Research
Working Paper
Political series
- W 13 -


III. THE ELECTORAL LAWS: BY COUNTRY

sty12x18Austria
sty12x18Belgium

sty12x18Denmark
sty12x18Spain
sty12x18Finland
sty12x18France
sty12x18Greece
sty12x18Ireland
sty12x18Italy
sty12x18Luxembourg
sty12x18The Netherlands
sty12x18Portugal
sty12x18Federal Republic of Germany
sty12x18United Kingdom
sty12x18Sweden

1. AUSTRIA

(a) Legislation

The Austrian Federation's Constitution of 1929 was amended in 1994 by federal law No 1013 and by the electoral law governing the election of Austrian representatives to the European Parliament, which was adopted by the national parliament on 26 January 1996.

(b) Distribution of seats

Austria has 21 seats.

For the purposes of elections to the European Parliament, the federal territory forms a single constituency.

(c) Electoral system

Seats are allocated by proportional representation using the d'Hondt system (largest average).

Voters have one vote which they may cast either for a list as a whole or for a candidate of their choice on the list.

Lists which win less than 4% of the votes cast do not qualify for the allocation of seats.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

Austrian citizens aged 18 years or over on 1 January of the year of the election.

Austrians resident in one of the Member States of the Union may vote by proxy or by post.

Nationals of other Member States ordinarily resident in Austria must be entered on an electoral register.

Anyone entitled to vote may stand as a candidate if they are aged 19 years or over on election day.

(e) Nomination of candidates

Nominations may be submitted by political parties which have the support of 5 members of the national parliament or 2 MEPs, or have obtained 2 600 signatures.

(f) Allocation of seats

Seats are allocated according to the number of preferential votes cast for the individual candidates.

Candidates must have gained at least 7% of the total votes cast for their party.

Vacant seats are filled by the next candidate on the same list.

(g) Incompatibilities

In addition to the incompatibilities laid down in the Electoral Act of 20 September 1976, a European mandate is incompatible with membership of the Cabinet, the office of judge in the Constitutional Court or the Administrative Court, President or Vice-President of the Court of Auditors or Ombudsman, and the post of manager of a partnership limited by shares, a private bank, a commercial, industrial or transport firm, a provincial credit institution or a mutual insurance company.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

By analogy with the rules applying to national elections, a ceiling of 130 million schillings is placed on the reimbursement of campaign expenses.

(i) Validation of election results

Following publication of the results in the 'Amtsblatt zur Wiener Zeitung', complaints may be lodged with the Federal Constitutional Court.

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2. BELGIUM

(a) Legislation

The elections to the European Parliament are governed by the law of 23 March 1989 as amended by that of 16 July 1993 on the federal structure of the State. The draft law implementing Council Directive 93/100/EC was adopted by the Senate on 9 March 1994 and by the Chamber of Representatives on 31 March 1994. The law officially entered into force on 26 April 1994 (Moniteur belge, 26.4.1994).

(b) Distribution of seats

Under the new federal organization of the State, the elections to the European Parliament will be based on the following four constituencies:

There are three electoral colleges: French, Dutch and German-speaking and persons entered on the electoral roll of the Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde electoral constituency may opt for either the French-speaking electoral college or the Dutch-speaking electoral college.

In the elections on 12 June 1994, of Belgium's 25 seats in the EP, 14 will be elected by the Dutch-speaking electoral college (Flanders + part of the Brussels region), 10 by the French-speaking electoral college (Wallonia + part of the Brussels region) and 1 by the German-speaking electoral college.

(c) Electoral system

Each voter has one vote which he can give either to a list or to a candidate on the list. Vote-splitting is not permitted. Seats are allocated by proportional representation using the d'Hondt system.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

In addition to Belgian nationals aged 18 or over, the following are also entitled to vote in elections to the European Parliament and may exercise their right to vote for candidates standing on Belgian lists:

Voting is compulsory and failure to do so carries a penalty.

Voting by proxy and postal voting are allowed.

(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists of candidates must be endorsed by at least five Belgian Members of Parliament belonging to the relevant linguistic group or by the signatures of at least 5000 voters registered on the relevant electoral roll (for the Walloon, Flemish or Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde constituencies); or 200 voters registered in the German-speaking constituency.

Nominations must be submitted on the 58th or 57th day preceding the elections.

(f) Allocation of seats

Seats are allocated according to the criteria of proportional representation on the basis of the number of votes cast for individual lists and candidates.

Vacant seats are filled by substitute candidates from the same list.

There is no threshold clause.

(g) Incompatibilities

Membership of the European Parliament is incompatible with national public office or membership of a community or regional executive. The incompatibilities laid down in the Act of 20 September 1976 and in the Community directive of 6 December 1993 also apply. Membership of the European Parliament is also incompatible with the office of mayor, alderman or chairman of the CPAS (social aid centre) of a municipality with more than 50 000 inhabitants.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special rules for the European elections. Various provisions of the electoral code also apply to elections to the European Parliament.

(i) Validation of election results

By the Council of State.

The Chamber of Representatives rules on the validity of elections with regard to those elected and their substitutes and on any objections lodged pursuant to the electoral law.

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3. DENMARK

(a) Legislation

The electoral law of 2 December 1977 was amended by new laws adopted by the Folketing on 22 June 1983, 7 December 1988 and 22 December 1993 (right to vote and to stand as a candidate for citizens of the Union). The provisions of Council Directive 93/100/EC were transposed into national law by an act of 4 March 1994.

(b) Distribution of seats

Denmark forms a single national constituency from which all 16 Members are elected. The seat which was allocated to Greenland under the previous legislation (Law No. 619 of 14 December 1977) has reverted to Denmark.

The Faeroes and Greenland do not form a part of the constituency.

Voting takes place in the electoral districts used for elections to the Folketing.

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation.

Voters have one vote which they can give either to a list as a whole or to a candidate of their choice on the list. During counting, all votes cast for candidates and lists in the individual electoral districts are added together. Candidates with the most votes on the individual lists are elected.

Seats are allocated to the individual lists using the d'Hondt system.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Parties represented in the Folketing are entitled to submit lists of candidates. Lists submitted by other parties must be supported by electors numbering at least 2% of valid votes cast at the last election.

A list may contain a maximum of 20 candidates.

Parties have the right to decide the order in which names appear on their list (party list).

Lists may be linked.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

The same as those laid down by the Act of 20 September 1976 and in Council Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special provisions for the European elections.

(i) Validation of election results

By the Danish Parliament.

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4. SPAIN

(a) Legislation

The organic law of 19 June 1985 on the general electoral system in Spain as supplemented and amended by the organic laws of 2 April 1987, 13 March 1991, 2 November 1992 and that of 30 March 1994 transposing the provisions of Council Directive 93/100/EC. The elections to the European Parliament are also governed by Royal decree No 421/1991 of 5 April 1991 on electoral procedures and by Royal decree No. 2118/1993 of 3 December 1993 (BOE No 290 of 4.12.1993).

(b) Distribution of seats

There are 64 seats.

Constituencies: Spain forms a single national constituency for elections to the European Parliament.

(c) Electoral system
(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists of candidates may be submitted by parties, coalitions, federations and groups of voters who have collected the signatures of 15 000 registered voters or 50 elected representatives.

When nominating candidates to the Central Electoral Board the parties, federations, coalitions and groups of voters can indicate the area in which they wish their voting slips to be distributed, provided this is smaller than the State as a whole and corresponds to the existing electoral districts in at least one Autonomous Community.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

The same as those laid down by the Act of 20 September 1976. A European mandate is incompatible with membership of the Cortes or the legislative assemblies of the Autonomous Communities.

The same incompatibilities as laid down in the general electoral law.

For membership of the Cortes and the legislative assemblies of the Autonomous Communities the mandate last achieved prevails.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

The State subsidizes election campaign expenses at a rate of 3 million pesetas for each seat obtained and 100 pesetas for each vote received.

The maximum figure for campaign expenses which can be reimbursed is obtained by multiplying by 20 pesetas the number of people entitled to vote in the constituencies in which a party puts up candidates.

(i) Validation of election results

By the Central Electoral Board, after initial validation by the Regional Electoral Boards within 20 days of the elections. The Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction where the results are contested.

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5. FINLAND

(a) Legislation

Law No 391/69 of 13 June 1969 concerning the election of the representatives of the National Assembly was supplemented and amended by the law of 10 February 1995 concerning the election of the representatives of the European Parliament.

(b) Distribution of seats

Finland has 16 seats.

The national territory is divided into 4 constituencies (south, west, north and east) on the basis of the constituencies laid down by national electoral law.

(c) Electoral system

List-based system with preferential vote and proportional allocation of seats by the d'Hondt system.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

All Finnish citizens aged 18 or over who have not been debarred on the grounds of electoral fraud (this prohibition lasts 6 years).

All citizens of the European Union domiciled in Finland for at least one year before the election may vote under the same conditions, if they apply to do so.

Anyone entitled to vote may stand for election.

No one placed under supervision or on active military service is entitled to stand for election.

Postal voting is authorized.

(e) Nomination of candidates

Nominations may be submitted at either constituency or national level.

They must be submitted by a legally constituted political party or a voters' association comprising at least 1 000 voters wishing to put up candidates in a constituency.

Voters' associations may submit joint lists at either constituency or national level (in the latter case, they must set up voters' associations in all the constituencies in which the joint lists are to stand).

Applications for publication of lists must be submitted to the central committee in Helsinki.

(f) Allocation of seats

Once the number of seats to be allocated to each party or voters' association has been established, the candidates on the various lists are ranked on the basis of the number of votes each has obtained.

Vacant seats are allocated to the next candidate on the same list.

(g) Incompatibilities
(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special rules.

(i) Validation of election results

The provisions governing national elections also apply to European elections.

The Uusismaa regional administrative tribunal has sole jurisdiction where the results are contested.

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6. FRANCE

(a) Legislation

Law No 77-729 of 7 July 1977 on the election of representatives of the Assembly of the European Communities and Decree No 79-160 of 28 February 1979 have been supplemented and amended by the law of 5 February 1994 on the exercise by nationals of the European Union resident in France of the right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament (Law No 94-104, Journal Officiel of 8 February 1994, p. 2124-2155).

(b) Distribution of seats

France has 87 seats. French MEPs represent the entire national territory (including overseas departments and territories).

(c) Electoral system
(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates
(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

The same as those laid down by the electoral code and those contained in the Community directive of 6 December 1993.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign
(i) Validation of election results

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7. GREECE

(a) Legislation

The Electoral Law of 20 July 1981 and Law No. 1443/84 have been supplemented and amended by the law of 22 March 1994 establishing the arrangements for the election of the Greek representatives to the European Parliament (Greek official journal No 2196).

(b) Distribution of seats

The whole of Greece constitutes one electoral area from which 25 deputies are elected to the European Parliament.

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation on a national basis.

Votes are cast for a single list and vote-splitting or preferential voting are prohibited.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists may be submitted only by political parties or party coalitions. Each list can include a maximum of 25 candidates.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

According to the Greek electoral law of 1981, a national parliamentary mandate is incompatible with the European mandate. However, law 1443/84 admits a dual mandate as an exception for the first two candidates on an electoral list. The incompatibilities laid down by the European Election Act of September 1976 and the Council directive of 6 December 1993 also apply.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

For each list a deposit of 150 000 drachmas is required. This amount is repayable if the list obtains 3% or more of the votes.

(i) Validation of election results

The election results can be contested in the Constitutional Court.

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8. IRELAND

(a) Legislation

Irish electoral law for elections to the European Parliament is governed by the European Assembly Elections Act 1977, the European Assembly (Irish representatives) Act 1979, the European Assembly Elections Act 1984 (Acts of the Oireachtas 1977, 1979 and 1984), the Electoral (Amendment) Act 1986, the Electoral Act 1992 and the European Election Act 1993. The directive on the right to vote for citizens of the Union was followed by the European Parliament Elections (voting and candidature) Regulations 1994.

(b) Distribution of seats

The 15 Irish Members of Parliament are elected in four constituencies: Dublin (4 seats), Munster (4 seats), Leinster (4 seats), Connacht/Ulster (3 seats).

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation.

The traditional single transferable vote system is used. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order on the ballot paper. Each voter casts his vote for one candidate and in addition indicates in order of preference the candidates to whom his vote should be given if the candidate of his first choice has already received more than the number of votes necessary for election, or has obtained too few votes and has thus been eliminated.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

Irish citizens and citizens of the European Union domiciled in Ireland and 18 years of age or over are entitled to vote. To exercise their right to vote, citizens of other Member States of the European Community must apply for entry on the electoral roll by 24 May 1994.

Under Irish legislation, voters may vote in person or by post. Irish nationals entered on the postal register of a particular constituency may vote by post. Irish citizens resident abroad cannot be entered on the roll and are thus precluded from voting for Irish candidates.

Citizens of the European Union of 21 years or over may stand as candidates. Nationals of Member States of the Union other than Ireland are subject to the residence requirements referred to above.

e) Nomination of candidates

Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by a third party. Each candidate is required to pay a deposit of £Irl 1000; this is refunded if the candidate receives at least one third of the votes required for election.

(f) Allocation of seats

The alphabetical order in which candidates are listed on the ballot paper does not affect the order in which seats are allocated. There is no threshold clause. To be elected candidates must obtain a pre-established quota of votes obtained by dividing the total number of valid votes by the number of seats + 1 and adding 1 to the result obtained.

Vacant seats are filled by candidates on the various lists who obtain a number of votes higher than the quota, in accordance with the preferences expressed by voters.

(g) Incompatibilities

In addition to the incompatibilities laid down in the European Electoral Act of 20 September 1976, membership of the European Parliament is not compatible with the office of Attorney General or with the Chairmanship or Deputy-Chairmanship of the Dail (House of Representatives) or Seanad (Senate). Membership of the European Parliament is compatible with membership of the Dail. The incompatibilities laid down in the Community directive of 6 December 1993 also apply.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special rules are laid down for the election campaign.

(i) Validation of election results

Receipt of a minute describing the implementation of the electoral procedure from the local electoral officer for each constituency to the relevant Minister suffices to verify the validity of the result. Electors or candidates can challenge the election results in the High Court.

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9. ITALY

(a) Legislation

Law No 18 of 24 January 1979 as amended and supplemented by laws No 61 of 9 April 1984, No 9 of 18 January 1989 and No 128 of 21 February 1994 (right to vote and to stand as a candidate for citizens of the Union).

(b) Distribution of seats

Italy has 87 seats. The national territory is divided into five constituencies (North-West, 22 seats; North-East, 15 seats; Centre, 16 seats; South, 19 seats; and Islands, 9 seats).

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation.

Votes are counted and seats allocated at national level where a quotient is established determining how many votes are required to win a seat. If in a constituency a list has obtained an insufficient number of votes to win a seat, these votes are transferred to the constituency in which the list of the party in question has obtained a relative majority of the votes. In this way all parties benefit from a redistribution of votes at national level.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates
(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

Those laid down by the Act of 20 September 1976 and those contained in Council Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993. Membership of the European Parliament is incompatible with the office of President of the Council or regional councillor.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

Election campaign expenses are refunded within set limits.

(i) Validation of election results

Any voter may lodge an objection with the Latium regional administrative tribunal and subsequently appeal to the Council of State.

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10. LUXEMBOURG

(a) Legislation

The Luxembourg electoral law of 25 February 1979 on the direct election of Luxembourg Members of the European Parliament has been supplemented and amended by two additional laws of March 1984 and by the law of 28 January 1994 on the election of the representatives of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to the European Parliament.

(b) Distribution of seats

Luxembourg forms a single national constituency from which all six Members are elected.

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation.

Every elector has six votes and can vote for up to six candidates.

He may vote for a list as a whole or distribute his votes among individual candidates. If a voter casts all his votes for a list with fewer than six candidates, that list is credited with as many votes as it has candidates.

Votes are counted using the d'Hondt system.

Vote-splitting is permitted.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists may be submitted with the endorsement of 250 registered voters, or of one Member of the European Parliament or the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies.

No list may include more than 12 candidates or be composed of a majority of candidates who are not of Luxembourg nationality.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

Those laid down by the Act of 20 September 1976.

An elected Member of the European Parliament who subsequently assumes office in the Luxembourg Government and must therefore resign his seat becomes, as of right, the next candidate on the list from which he was elected.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special rules for the European elections.

(i) Validation of election results

By the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies.

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11. THE NETHERLANDS

(a) Legislation

The Netherlands electoral law of 13 December 178 (Staatsblad 652) was repealed by the law of 28 January 1993 (Staatsblad 75), which was subsequently incorporated into the Netherlands electoral code (Kieswet 423 of 28 September 1989, Section Y). The arrangements implementing the right to vote and to stand as a candidate for citizens of the Union were adopted on 4 February 1994.

(b) Distribution of seats

The Netherlands has 31 seats and the country forms a single national constituency.

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation. Votes are counted and seats allocated at national level using the d'Hondt system.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Candidates are nominated by political parties (25 signatures are required). The lists can include up to 40 names. A deposit of Fl 18 000 is required when a list is submitted by a party not represented in the European Parliament (Fl 1000 per district).

(f) Allocation of seats

Each voter has one vote which he can give either to a list or a candidate. In this way the order of names on the list can be changed. Vacant seats are filled by the next candidate on the relevant list.

(g) Incompatibilities

Those laid down for the Netherlands Parliament (Law of 13 December 1978, 'Staatsblad' 653, as amended by the law of 24 June 1992, Staatsblad 350). The incompatibilities referred to in the Community directive on the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate for citizens of the Union also apply.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

No special rules for the European elections.

(i) Validation of election results

By the central polling office.

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12. PORTUGAL

(a) Legislation

The law on elections to the European Parliament was approved by the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic on 29 April 1987 (Law No. 14/87). It was subsequently amended and supplemented by law No. 3 of 9 March 1994 on the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the European Union residing in Portugal (Official journal, 1st series, No 57).

(b) Distribution of Seats

Portugal has 25 seats.

Portuguese territory constitutes a single electoral constituency.

(c) Electoral System
(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists of candidates are submitted to the Constitutional Court. Lists must contain a number of candidates equal to the number of members to be elected and between three and eight substitutes.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

Account is taken of:

Members of certain local, administrative and judicial institutions are not eligible.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

After consulting the government, the President of the Republic fixes the date of the elections within 75 days. The election campaign lasts for 12 days. The campaign is funded by the parties but within certain limits.

(i) Validation of election results

The election results are checked at district and autonomous region level by an intermediate verification Committee. The arrangements for national elections apply for general verification.

The general verification of results and the proclamation of successful candidates is undertaken by an assembly for general verification established in Lisbon.

The Constitutional Court has sole jurisdiction in the event of the election results being contested.

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13. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY

(a) Legislation

The German electoral law of 16 June 1978 was last amended on 11 November 1993 and by the law of 13 March 1994 on the right to vote and stand as a candidate for citizens of the European Union (Bundesgesetzblatt, 13 March 1994, Vol. I, p. 419).

(b) Distribution of seats

The 99 Members are elected from Land or Federal lists

(c) Electoral system

Proportional representation. Each elector has one vote.

Votes are counted at federal level using the Hare-Niemeyer system. When a party submits Land lists the total number of seats won by that party is divided among them using the Hare-Niemeyer system.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election
(e) Nomination of candidates

Lists of candidates may be submitted by Land or grouped together on a single list for all the Länder.

Political parties and 'political associations organized on a membership basis' (e.g. the European party federations) may submit lists of candidates.

If not already represented in the Bundestag or the Landtag by at least five members, they must collect 4 000 signatures for a Federal list or 2000 for a Land list.

(f) Allocation of seats
(g) Incompatibilities

The same as those laid down by the Act of 20 September 1976 and, in addition, those laid down by the Bundeswahlgesetz (Federal Electoral Law) and in the Community directive on the right to vote and stand as a candidate for citizens of the European Union.

Members of the European Parliament may also sit in the Bundestag.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

Parties receive a sum in proportion to their share of the votes from an election campaign expenses fund. This fund totals approx. DM 215 million (DM 5 per voter). This reimbursement is granted for any list obtaining at least 0.5% of the votes cast. There are plans for an agreement between the parties limiting election campaign expenditure.

(i) Validation of election results

By the Bundestag. Its decision can be contested in the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court).

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14. UNITED KINGDOM

(a) Legislation

The European Parliamentary Elections Act of May 1978 was amended and supplemented by the European Elections Act of 1981, the Representation of the People Acts of 1983 and 1985, the regulations governing the elections to the European Parliament in Northern Ireland and Scotland and the European Parliamentary Elections Act of 1993. The modification concerning the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in the United Kingdom came into force on 16 February 1994 with the European Parliament Elections Regulation 1994.

(b) Distribution of seats

The United Kingdom has 87 seats. These are divided among the different regions as follows:

England71 seats
Scotland8 seats
Wales4 seats
Northern Ireland3 seats

The seats are contested in 85 constituencies allocated as follows:

England71 constituencies
Scotland8 constituencies
Wales5 constituencies
Northern Ireland1 constituencies
(c) Electoral system

Representatives from England, Scotland and Wales are elected according to the traditional majority vote system in individual constituencies. The three Northern Ireland representatives are elected by the same system as in Ireland, i.e. on a proportional representation basis in a single 3-member constituency. For the selection of candidates, the single transferable vote is used (cf. Ireland).

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

Citizens of the European Union resident in the United Kingdom and aged 18 years or over are entitled to vote. Applications for entry on the electoral roll must be received by the local authority by 24 October. In order to exercise their right to vote in Northern Ireland, citizens of the European Union must have resided in the national territory for the three months prior to their entry on the electoral roll. Contrary to the practice in national elections, members of the House of Lords also have the right to vote. British citizens who have registered to vote in the United Kingdom within the last five years, but now reside abroad, have the right to vote on completion of a declaration (Representation of the People Act 1985) as have government officials and members of the armed forces. Candidates must be citizens of the European Union aged 21 years or over. Members of the House of Lords and clergymen may also stand for election.

(e) Nomination of candidates

Candidates need not be nominated by a political party. Nominations in the constituencies must be endorsed by 30 electors. In addition a deposit of £1000 must be paid.

(f) Allocation of seats

In England, Scotland and Wales the seats are won by the candidate with the greatest number of votes in each single member constituency. In the 3-member constituency of Northern Ireland, candidates with sufficient first-choice votes are elected and thereafter the second and subsequent choice votes of the voters are used to fill the remaining seats.

Vacancies are filled by means of by-elections.

There are no 'threshold clauses'.

(g) Incompatibilities

Incompatibilities are as laid down in the European Electoral Act of 20 September 1976 and the law of 16 February 1994. Membership of the European Parliament is compatible with membership of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

In contrast to national elections no special rules have been laid down for the European elections, with the exception of a limitation on campaign expenditure. No grants of public moneys are made available to political parties to fund the election campaign. Expenses are limited to £10 000 and 4.3 pence per elector.

(I) Validation of election results

The Returning Officer in each constituency is responsible for the counting of the votes and the declaration of the results. Election results can be contested in the High Court.

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15. SWEDEN

(a) Legislation

The electoral law of 1972 col. 620 concerning elections to the Riksdag was supplemented and amended by the law of 20 April 1995 on elections to the European Parliament.

(b) Distribution of seats

Sweden has 22 seats.

The country is not divided into constituencies for European elections.

(c) Electoral system

List-based system with preferential vote and proportional allocation of seats by the modified St Lagüe method (odd-numbers method in which the highest common factor is 1.4).

Voters may vote for a political party or for one or more candidates. They may change the order in which candidates appear on the lists and may add or delete names.

Parties must obtain at least 4% of the total number of votes cast at national level to qualify for the allocation of seats.

(d) Entitlement to vote and eligibility for election

All Swedish citizens aged 18 or over on election day, who are resident in Sweden.

Swedish citizens resident abroad must have resided in Sweden in the past and have applied for entry on a special electoral roll.

Citizens of other EU Member States who are resident in Sweden and aged 18 or over on election day may also vote, on condition that they notify the tax authorities before doing so.

Anyone who, according to the register kept by the tax authorities, was entered on the population register in Sweden before 1 July is considered to be a resident.

Postal votes may be cast at the Posten Aktiebolag post office, at consular offices or on ships travelling outside Sweden.

Anyone entitled to vote may stand for election.

(e) Nomination of candidates

By virtue of the principle of free nomination, parties and candidates are not obliged to collect a given number of signatures or pay a deposit.

Nominations must be submitted to the central authority.

(f) Allocation of seats

Each seat won by a party is allocated to a representative of that party and his or her substitutes.

Once the ballot papers containing votes for individual candidates have been collected, the candidates are ranked on the basis of the number of preferential votes obtained. Candidates must have obtained at least 5% of the total number of votes cast for their party.

The remaining seats are allocated to the candidates who obtained the highest proportion of the total number of votes cast for their party.

Should a seat fall vacant during a parliamentary term, it will be filled by one of the substitutes elected at the same time as the holder.

(g) Incompatibilities

The same as those laid down by the Electoral Act of 1976 and Directive 93/109.

Furthermore, no one who stood in the European elections in June 1994 is eligible for election.

(h) Regulations concerning the election campaign

National electoral law lays down no specific rules or limits governing the funding of political parties.

No special rules for European elections.

(i) Validation of election results

The validation board has sole jurisdiction where the results are contested. It has the power to order the annulment of a ballot and the organization of new elections.


European Parliament: 10/01/1997