EU Member states can choose whether they want to have multiple constituencies for elections to the European Parliament, or not. Many EU member states have a single national constituency (like Germany) while others have subdivisions (like Poland, and formerly France). What is the point in the choice? And why do some nations choose a single constituency and others multiple?

Map of EU Parliament Constituencies

  • The situation is even more complicated than this picture makes it seem to be. In Germany, it is up to the parties to decide if they want to submit a list in any number of the 16 federal states or a single unified list for all of Germany. In the last election all except for two parties did the latter so effectively for them there is a single constituency. However the exceptions are the major parties CDU (everywhere except Bavaria) and CSU (only Bavaria) who have an agreement not to compete with each other. So for their voters, which are quite a few, there were multiple constituencies.
    – mlk
    Nov 10 '19 at 14:00

Member states are allowed to elect its MEPs in any way they wish, so long as it produces a proportional result.

With respect to the choice with regards to constituencies, there are pros and cons to each of these approaches.

The primary advantage to having a single nation-wide constituency is that it provides the most proportional result. Many smaller countries don't have enough seats to be able to divide into constituencies while still maintaining a proportional result.

The primary advantage to having multiple constituencies is that it actively prevents a capital-centric selection of MEPs, and ensures that every part of the country has representation in the European Parliament.


European countries have different traditions and laws for their national elections. European elections are close enough to a common standard to satisfy most requirements of democracy and close enough to the national traditions to feel familiar and comfortable to the voters.

For instance, it is generally accepted that elections should be on the same day for the entire electorate, so that no voter can use partial results for tactical voting. European elections are on different days, but results are only communicated at the last day.

  • European countries are also dramatically different in size. Compare Luxembourg and Malta with Germany, for example, while also remembering that places like San Marino and Monaco might want to join at some point. Nov 10 '19 at 12:40
  • Regarding that last paragraph, if I recall correctly, the Dutch were among the first in the most recent parliamentary election and the polling stations verbally return their results (by Dutch law?) after counting the ballots in the evening after the election. I think there was an effort by a website to have many people attend these counts and to share the results online yielding a very accurate overview the next day, before some other countries had even started their election.
    – JJJ
    Nov 13 '19 at 3:19

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