Europeans go to polls in June 2009

Elections to the European Parliament will be held in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) between 4 and 7 June 2009. The event will be the biggest transnational election in history.

The European Year of Creativity and Innovation is also the year that marks 30 years since the first direct election of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) took place in 1979. The European Parliament (EP) is the assembly of members directly elected by the Europeans and representing the citizens. Today the EP represents almost 500 million inhabitants of 27 European Union countries.

Current EP President, Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, one of the MEPs who are still in the European Parliament having being elected in 1979, has witnessed many changes, from the fall of the Iron Curtain and the reunification of Germany to a Union of 27 countries. Looking back at the 30 years he has spent at the EP, Mr Pöttering says:

If somebody had told me back in 1979 that I would be part of a political community that would include three nations formerly occupied by the Soviet Union - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - as well as the Warsaw Pact countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia (now two states), Hungary and Slovenia, and that Germany would be united as part of the European community and member of the European Union, my answer would have been "this is a hope, this is a vision". (Source: The EP website)

How does the work of the European Parliament affect us?

Among other tasks, the European Parliament amends, approves or rejects EU laws, together with the Council of the European Union. These laws concern many of the areas that impact the daily life of Europeans: consumer protection, the single market, workers' rights, asylum and immigration, the environment, animal welfare and others. The latest European legislation has covered fields such as parental leave and climate change. The laws that are voted by the European Parliament apply in all the 27 countries.

Voting and democracy

Voting is an important civic duty and a basic democratic exercise where a citizen has the right to express an opinion. Voting helps democracy work, links up citizens with their political leaders and also safeguards our freedoms. By voting, a citizen has an opportunity to influence the decision-making process, and therefore make a choice about the future and daily life of some 500 million Europeans.

Talking about the role of voting in a democratic society, more than 2000 years ago, Pericles, the ancient Greek politician and orator, said that democracy depends on the participation of all its citizens: We do not say that people who take no interest in politics are people who mind their own business: we say they have no business here at all.

Related websites

European Parliament website
European Elections: It’s your choice (EP website)


28/05/2009 by: Petru Dumitru