October 13, 2011
In the framework of Belgian`s most recent constitutional reform it has also been that as of 2014 elections for the European, national and regional parliaments should be held simultaneously.
This constitutes a landmark decision for European democracy. All EU member states should follow the Belgian example.
- The electoral period should be extended to five years. This is overdue to allow for more continuity and tackle long-term issues. A four-year electoral cycle is too short for undertaking complex reforms.
- Holding national and EU elections simultaneously will save a tax payers` money and improve low voter participation.
- It is more likely to produce similar majorities at the European and national levels. This would allow Europe to be governed by parallel coalitions at EU and national levels.
- In the European Parliament the dividing lines between a coalition supporting the Commission and an opposition would become clearer. This would encourage the constitution of EU wide parties and bring the EU closer to conventional democratic practices.
For federal countries, in particular Germany, the benefits of holding simultaneous elections would carry even bigger advantages. Presently Germany finds itself in a constant election process. This is very unhealthy, as it diverts excessive political energy to short-term considerations, marked by party interests, delaying necessary political, economic and social reforms.
How to achieve simultaneous elections throughout Europe?It will be a long-term process that will require a thorough debate at EU and national levels.
It will be up to the parties to take the initiative. Ideally the European Parliament should form a task force “Election Cycle” to reflect on the pros and cons of national and EU elections taking place simultaneously. On that basis, the EP Bureau should make a recommendation to the European Council for adapting the electoral cycle in all member states so as to coincide from 2020 onwards with that of the EP.Author : Eberhard Rhein