Europe Goes to the Polls

The polls for the 2024 European elections have opened, marking the most significant moment of continental democracy. The total number of voters is approximately 359 million: according to data released by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the country with the most eligible voters is Germany (64.9 million citizens), followed by France (49.7 million) and Italy (47 million). In terms of the number of eligible voters, the European elections are the second largest in the world after the Indian federal elections. Citizens of the Old Continent will elect the MEPs of the 10th legislature, which will officially begin with the plenary session. A total of 720 MEPs will be elected, and their seats will be allocated through the proportional system. Thus, parties will receive a number of seats proportional to the number of votes they receive. However, there are differences among countries: in some, such as Italy, preferences are allowed, while in other countries, including Germany, France, and Spain, preferences are not considered.

In our country, to access the distribution of seats, lists must reach 4% of the votes nationwide. In most EU states, however, there is no threshold. Among the states that have adopted it, in France, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Lithuania, it is 5%. In Italy, Austria, and Sweden, it is 4%, in Greece 3%, and in Cyprus 1.8%.

Among the many proposals that emerged during the election campaign, it will be interesting to observe the voters’ response on key issues such as common defense and foreign policy, on which many parties have expressed urgency. Especially in this year marked by conflicts, one of which is right on European territory, namely in Ukraine. This conflict has recently regained media attention after the words of Vladimir Putin, who, in meeting the international press, explained that Moscow might consider the right to respond to Kiev’s use of Western missiles against its territory by providing the same weapons “to regions of the world from which attacks on sensitive sites in those countries supplying arms to Ukraine will be launched,” namely NATO countries. He then clarified that it is not Russia’s intention to attack the Atlantic Alliance. “You have made up the idea that Russia wants to attack NATO. Have you completely lost your minds? Look at our potential and that of NATO; we are not fools, Russia has no imperial ambitions”, he said. And about Italy, he emphasized: “In Italy, there is no caveman-like Russophobia, and we take that into account. We hope that when the situation regarding Ukraine begins to stabilize, we will be able to restore relations with Italy perhaps even more quickly than with some other countries”.

The next European Parliament will certainly have to manage a delicate geopolitical balance in the East. Especially, the new commissioner, who many identify as Mario Draghi, will need great dialogue skills. A survey conducted by the polling institute Polling Europe showed a head-to-head race, with a two-point lead for the former Italian Prime Minister and former President of the European Central Bank: 49% of respondents choose Draghi, while 47% prefer the outgoing President von der Leyen. These are just speculations: in the end, it will be the European Council that decides, but taking into account the orientation of the European Parliament, which this time might see a new majority prevail, with a more right-leaning center of gravity.