Tag Archives: electoral law

Tarand law

During the European Parliament elections in 2009, it was not possible for the people to vote for their chosen candidates (the so-called “closed lists” system) – the parties’ leaders comfortably decided themselves once the votes had been given to them. Furthermore, this is related to an even larger – and still existing – problem.

People are quite often forced into party membership. They are left with no other choice when they wish to do business in certain areas, build a house, expand their company’s market share, have job at a ministry, etc. As an independent candidate, I offered the people a little diversity in this context during the last elections and it seemed to resonate with quite a few people. It might be worth mentioning, that the electoral law was changed on February 10th 2010 and was nicknamed the “Tarand law.”

For more information, please read:

In English:

Wikipedia: “European Parliament election, 2009 (Estonia)”
National Electoral Committee: “Estonian European Parliament Elections in 2009”
Wikipedia: “Closed list”

In Estonian:

Delfi: “Rumm: Tarandi seodus võetakse kolmapäeval vastu.”
ERR: “Järgmised eurovalimised tulevad avatud nimekirjadega”
Postimees: “Juba otsustati” – Argo Ideon
Maaleht: “Kahjuks nad jälle valetavad”

European electoral reform

The procedure in question is a report by veteran UK liberal MEP Andrew DUFF which is a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of September 20, 1976.

The work on creating a common electoral law has been going on for a long time already, since 1976. Why? From the constitutional perspective, it is a very important law which needs to be updated every now and then. The reform will introduce a number of changes to the present act – i.e. establishment of transnational voting lists.

The report comes amid continuing concern about the so-called “democratic deficit” between the EU and citizens, and the democratic function of the European Parliament is acknowledged by the public only to a certain extent. On the European level, political parties are rather still at the beginning of their development and the electoral battles take place more on the national than European level. It would then mean that the candidates could be set up in both transnational and national constituencies.

Some more examples of the changes the reform would introduce:

  • Preferential semi-open list system – citizens have the right to vote for both an individual candidate and for a list.
  • Territorial constituencies on a regional basis should be introduced in all those States with a population of more than 20 million.
  • The total number of elected Members shall be 751, with a minimum of six Members per State, and a maximum of 96.
  • An electoral authority, comprised of representatives of the EP, the Commission and each Member State, shall be established to conduct and verify the electoral process of the EU constituency.
  • EU-wide lists submitted by the European political parties shall be admissible only: a) if composed of candidates from at least 1/3 of the States, and b) if gender-balanced.
  • Each voter shall have one extra vote that he or she can give to an EU constituency candidate.
  • There shall be no minimum threshold for the allocation of seats from the EU constituency.
  • The minimum age to be eligible to vote in the European parliamentary elections will be 16; the minimum age to be eligible will be 18; this provision should encourage young people to participate more in elections.
  • Candidates may stand at the same election both for EU-wide and national or regional constituencies.
  • Polling days for the elections to the European Parliament shall be a Saturday and Sunday in May. It would be for this very reason that the EP could then organise its work more smoothly and therefore accelerate the election of the new President of the Commission. It would also allow to avoid the beginning of the summer recess in many member states. Right now polling days for the elections run from Thursday to Sunday in June.
  • If the e-polling is guaranteed to be reliable in both technical and legal terms, the e-polling techniques shall be used as soon as the 2014 elections.

For more information, please read:

Europarliament: “On a proposal for a modification of the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976(2007/2207(INI))”


The Constitutional Affaires Committee, aka AFCO (Affaires Constitutionnelles) is responsible in the EP first and foremost for dealing with inevitable and essential EU issues. Among other things, the committee is also responsible for the implementation of the EU Treaty and the assessment of its operations, for the institutional aspects regarding the enlargement negotiations of the Union, for legal aspects regarding the creation and administration of new institutions, and for the inter-institutional relations.

Currently, the new common electoral law is being discussed in the committee, with discussions dating back to 1976. The committee also executes institutional supervision of the existence of serious and persistent breaches by any Member State.

At first glance, these might not be the most interesting subjects, but yet they are of great significance.

For instance, the framework and principles for the newly established European External Action Service (EEAS), introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, were set also in the Parliament’s AFCO committee in the first half of 2010 (with the so-called Brok-Verhofstadt report).

It was made possible by the new co-decision procedure, also introduced by the new Lisbon Treaty, meaning that the EP had the same legislative role to play together with the European Commission and the Council.

For more information, please read:

European Parliament committees.