Election process of the European Parliament explained

World Today

The European Union is notoriously complex. And the process of how every member state has a say in the European Parliament can be equally confusing. CGTN’s Gerald Tan breaks down some of the mechanics and issues.

The European Parliament is unique. It’s the world’s only assembly that writes laws for an entire continent – a total of 28 nations with a combined population of more than 510 million.

Representatives serve five-year terms. While they represent their national parties, once in Strasbourg they also join separate, European parties with like-minded members from other nations.

There are eight of these pan-European groups; they span the political spectrum, from left-leaning parties — including communists — to conservatives and far-right nationalists. Each Euro party nominates a leader known as a ‘spitzenkandidat.’ The leader who secures a majority coalition will become the next European Commission president, replacing Jean-Claude Juncker.

EU laws get passed by parliament, but must also get approval from the Council of the European Union. The council includes heads of state, or heads of government, such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who, ironically, is leading British efforts to leave the EU.

Altogether, 751 seats will be contested in this election. That’s because Brexit still hasn’t happened. Once the UK leaves the bloc, the EU parliament will shrink to 705 seats.

Brexit will be one of the main issues facing the new parliament. If the UK parliament ever agrees to a deal, the European Parliament will have to approve it.

This year’s elections take place over four days, with results released Sunday evening, May 26. And it’s a vote that will shape the bloc’s future, as the European Parliament passes laws by which every EU nation must abide.