Towards an Electoral Union? National Electoral Models, Strategies, and Effects at the 2019 EP Election

25 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2021

Date Written: October 4, 2021


Since 1999, all member states have employed some form of proportional representation to elect representatives in the European Parliament. The introduction of Spitzenkandidaten and greater policy and campaigning coordination within Europarties sought to create a common European ground of party competition. However, the actual election of MEPs remains a national endeavor, determined by a national electoral framework. The electoral success of an Europarty in a given member state is shaped by the conditions set by the national electoral model for European elections. Different national models also give rise to different electoral strategies employed by parties wishing to maximize their number of MEPs. While electoral alliances might reflect cooperation of ideologically similar parties (such as list combinations in the Netherlands) or presidential majorities, like the coalition list of parties that support the French President, sometimes, especially in newer member states (e.g., Croatia), they might represent a strategic choice of ideologically divergent parties to work together in order to pass the threshold and win seats in the European Parliament. This paper seeks to compare different national playing grounds in which Europarties, i.e., their member parties compete, as well as electoral strategies that accompany such different frameworks. Apart from Ireland and Malta, which use the single transferable vote system, all other (current) member states use list proportional representation. However, the choice of a national electoral district or division in regional electoral constituencies can have a significant impact on electoral outcomes. Further, the employment of an electoral threshold and its interaction with district magnitude can create different electoral conditions. Finally, methods of seat allocation have an impact on prospects of smaller parties. A comparison of national electoral models will uncover different conditions and levels of (dis)proportionality that all weave together into the ultimate makeup of the European Parliament.

Keywords: Electoral system, Electoral Strategy, Europeanization, European Parliament, Europarty

Suggested Citation

Raos, Višeslav, Towards an Electoral Union? National Electoral Models, Strategies, and Effects at the 2019 EP Election (October 4, 2021). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSC 2021/81, 2021, Available at SSRN: or

Višeslav Raos (Contact Author)

University of Zagreb ( email )

Trg maršala Tita 14

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