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Peculiarities of the European elections in Italy

Headquarters of Partito Democratico in Perugia (personal archive)


In May 2019 Italians will be called to re-boot the European Parliament, just as the citizens of the other 26 member states. Between 23 and 26 May, European elections will be held in all the member states of the European Union, according to the respective legislative framework. In fact, if the ballot is European, the rules regulating the vote are national. This means it will be possible to elect and to be elected in different ways, according to the country. Italy doesn’t make an exception, presenting its own peculiarities. So let’s have a look at the Italian electoral law applying to the European elections.

18-years old to vote, 25-years old to be elected

First of all, the Italian legislation recognizes the voting rights to all people who are at least 18 years old at the moment of the poll. According to the figures of the Italian ministry for Home affairs, there are some 51,299,871 people in possession of voting right and a valid electoral card. The figure concerns the number of Italians called to vote last time, in March 2018, for the general elections and includes both people resident in the country (46,605,046) and those leaving abroad.

According to the Italian rules, people living outside Italy are allowed to vote for the European elections only if they live in one of the EU member states. Italians in extra-EU countries cannot participate to the European elections. The only way possible to vote from outside Italy is going to vote to the embassies, since in Italy there is no possibility of voting by post, by proxy or by e-mail.

In order to run for the European Parliament and being elected, any Italian candidate must be at least 25-years old at the moment of his registration on the electoral lists, and must enjoy all civil and political rights (any candidate must basically be not in troubles with justice, in Italy as elsewhere).

Electoral threshold at 4%, Country split in 5

For European elections the Italian electoral law foresees a proportional representation with an electoral threshold at 4%. In order to see MEPs sitting both in Brussels and Strasbourg each political force must thus reach such a target in every of the five different constituencies set by the national legislation.

Italy must elect 76 members of the European Parliament, 3 more compared to the 2014 elections. This change is due to Brexit and the reallocations of seats. Italian authorities still have to establish where to make available the new extra seats, but the basic scheme remains as it is. Italy is organised as it follows:

North-Western Italy (19 members to be elected across the regions of Piemonte, Valle d’Aosta, Liguria, Lombardia)

North-Eastern Italy (13 members to be elected across the regions of Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna)

Central Italy (14 members to be elected across the regions of Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Lazio)

Southern Italy (18 members to be elected across the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria)

Insular Italy (8 members to be elected across the regions of Sicilia, Sardegna)

The number of seats allocated per regional constituency is as foreseen by the national decree approved and published in 2009. It represents a not-fix basis, as shown by the 2014 European elections. In that occasion the people elected were 20, 14, 14, 17 and 8 respectively. Furthermore, as the Italian electoral law is based on the proportional principle, according to the change in national population and its composition, the number of people to be elected in each of the five regional area are always subject to variations.

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