Let’s talk EU politics! I know you are probably thinking: “EU Politics? The things that people in Brussels decide don’t affect us anyway!” The perception many voters have is that the EU only decides on the unimportant stuff – like the old myth that they’re concerned about how curved a cucumber can be.
Let me tell you: it is not like that. From ensuring we pay a reasonable price for all manner of products that come from abroad, to making sure we don’t have to wait at the border or encounter all sorts of problems living in another European country, the EU is anything but trivial.
The way it works is that the nation states give certain competences to the EU. And in those areas the people we vote for on May 26 will be part of the decision-making process.
So, why is it important that everybody votes on May 26. This is simple. Democracy works for the people who participate in it. Whatever your view on the world might be, it is strengthened by the vote you cast. It’s as simple as that. It might seem to many that one vote won’t make a difference, but look at the countless examples of elections around the world where a small number of votes have changed the end result.
The most famous example of a close election in living memory was the 2000 US presidential election between George W Bush and Al Gore. Just 537 votes in Florida decided that Bush became the 43rd president of the US. While the 2008 Italian General Election came down to just 25,000 votes.
So make sure your voice is heard – particularly if you have a moderate opinion as the extreme voters tend to be more motivated and likely to participate.
So, can I vote? Where, when and how do I vote?
EU countries can choose any of the dates between May 23 and 26 to hold the election. Denmark has chosen the 26th, and on that Sunday EU citizens above the age of 18 will be eligible to cast their vote.
However, if you are a non-Danish EU citizen living in Denmark you had to register to vote. The rule in Denmark is that you have to register for voting as a foreigner 35 days before the election, so before April 24. In the case that you have not registered then you unfortunately do not have the possibility to vote for any of the Danish candidates for the European Parliament.
If you have registered, then you should have received or should soon receive a notification via mail informing you where you can cast your vote. This is usually at a nearby school or in another state-owned building. Bring the notification you got to the voting location and remember to bring a valid ID such as your passport. Now you have the possibility to vote.
However, if you forgot to register, you might still have the chance to register in your home country and vote from abroad. However, this procedure is different depending on the country you are from. Unfortunately, Brits do not have the possibility to register anymore, since the deadline passed on May 7.
If you are a Danish citizen, you can vote, and you will be automatically notified via mail or your e-Boks.
What parties can I vote for?
This part of the European elections is always a matter of confusion. Do I need to vote for parties that are sitting in the European Parliament? How are they called? What do they stand for?!
Question after question, but don’t worry … it is much easier than you might think. Simply start by looking at the policies favoured by the parties you favour in general elections. It’s normally enough to assure you they’re in keeping with your views. The parties normally team up with like-minded national parties from all over Europe and build an alliance, and it’s normally the umbrella parties that get the most attention when the results start coming in.
Biggest ‘umbrella’ parties in the EU:
The European’s People Party (EPP) is the conservative party under which the Danish Konservative party falls.
Socialists & Democrats (S&D) is the social democratic party, so it won’t surprise you to know Socialdemokratiet is part of that grouping.
The third biggest party in the European Parliament is the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe (ALDE), which is represented in Denmark by the governing liberal party Venstre and the social liberal party Radikale.
What will the likely result be?
The biggest party in the European Parliament is currently the EPP. However, projections suggest that the EPP will lose approximately 37 seats and see its allocation fall from 217 to 180 seats. These losses are traceable back to the loss in polls recently in France, Slovakia and Poland.
S&D is also expected to lose seats. Big losses in Italy, Germany and France are expected as their allocation falls from 186 to 149.
Changes in Germany and France are expected to strongly impact the results. French President Emmanuel Macron has brought a resurgence of liberal values, with the ALDE expected to raise its allocation from 68 to 76.
All of this will impact on who becomes the next president of the European Commission. The favourites are Manfred Weber (EPP) and Frans Timmermans (S&D).
Since the last election in 2014 the procedure for selecting the new president has been more democratised, thus making it more likely the biggest party’s candidate will be chosen. Current president, Jean-Claude Juncker, is from the EPP.
How will the Danish seats be distributed? (13 seats)
As things stand, the following is the expected distribution of seats, but things might change.
5 seats – ALDE
3 seats – S&D
2 seats – ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists)
1 seat – EPP
1 seat – Greens/EFA (European Free Alliance)
1 seat – GUE/NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left)
Is populism and the far-right a problem in this election as well?
Like most of the world, European politics has seen a rise in populism and far-right insurgency of late, and developments like Brexit have fuelled the fire. In Denmark, Dansk Folkeparti could capitalise.
However, there has been a backlash – call it the Macron effect if you like. The recent election of Slovakia’s new president, Zuzana Čaputová, raises hopes of a more moderate election outcome.