On the 24th of May 2019 people all across Europe will have the chance to make their voice heard. Hundreds of millions of people in twenty-seven countries will vote on the makeup of the European Parliament .
Most importantly, when going to the polling station in Ireland, it’s important to remember we’re not only voting in the European Elections. At the same time, we’ll be voting in the local elections, these decide who represents your area on the county or city council. There will also be a referendum on reducing the divorce waiting period from four to two years. However, I do believe the European Elections are the most important, yet misunderstood, elections and that many people do not take them seriously enough.
What are the European Elections?
On the 24th of May, you get to decide who your Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are for your regional area, being Dublin, Ireland Midlands North-West or Ireland South. These MEPs have a five-year term, from 2019 until 2024 and vote on laws relating to Europe in either Strasbourg or Brussels. While seen as a retirement home by some, MEPs are more active travelling to and from Brussels or Strasbourg, making laws that affect Ireland and 27 other EU countries, so their roles are incredibly important.
MEPs sit on certain important committees related to their field of interest and are often on more than one committee. For example, they may be a main member of a committee on finance and international development, but also a substitute member of farming, meaning if another MEP cannot be present, they cover the role.
These differ from other elections in that candidates represent both a national party and a European party that transcends their home country. The main parties in the European Parliament are the European People’s Party (EPP), which are the party of Fine Gael; the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats in Europe (ALDE), which are the party of Fianna Fáil; and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D), which are the party of Labour.
The main reason you should vote in the European Elections is that they will decide your future. Youth voting in the European Elections has been consistently low with many young people abstaining. The overall percentage of people voting is higher in Ireland than most European countries at 55%.
For more information and how to register to vote click vote.