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Pro-independence parties reject new threshold for EU parliament election

Regulation obliges member states to set a minimum of 2% to 5% of votes for a candidacy to get a seat in the chamber

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05 July 2018 11:40 AM

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ACN | Barcelona/Brussels

A new threshold set for parties in the European Parliament election has not been welcomed by Catalan pro-independence forces. The regulation sets a minimum of 2% to 5% of votes for parties to get a seat in certain cases and in practice it affects Germany and Spain. These two member states are free to decide any threshold within this scale within their borders. This means that regional parties might struggle to make the threshold in the EU parliament election set for 2024, the first in which the regulation will apply.

The measure sets this threshold for constituencies with more than 35 seats, and it also affects single-constituency member states with at least 35 representatives at stake. With some affected member states having already thresholds, Spain and Germany are the only ones which have to change their rules before the 2024 election. 

Shortly after the European chamber approved the regulation on Wednesday, the ERC and PDeCAT pro-independence parties, along with some Basque and Galician forces, complained about the measure. In their view, the reform is "serious" and it "removes political pluralism from the chamber."

Large coalition

Catalan MEPs Ramon Tremosa and Josep Maria Terricabras told a press conference that a "large coalition" of affected parties might be the way to get around the issue. For Tremosa, such a coalition might "get a good electoral result." Terricabras believes that "it is good to give an image of unity in Europe for those who do not share Spain’s Jacobin [centralizing] view." Yet, his ERC colleague, Jordi Solé, said that the party is "skeptical" of such tickets. 

Possible effects of reform

In the 2014 election, ERC ran on its own and got 4.07% of the votes in the whole of Spain – and 23.6% in Catalonia. That meant 2 seats for the candidacy, but if the threshold is 5% in the future, the party would not be able to get representation with these results.

  • "[The reform] removes political pluralism from the chamber"

    Josep Maria Terricabras · Esquerra Republicana (ERC) MEP

Also in the last parliamentary election, CiU (a predecessor of PDeCAT) got 5.4% of the votes in its joint ticket with the Basque Nationalist Party and parties from the Canary Islands. Together they got three MEPs, but if they had run seperately and the reform was in place, they would not have been able to make it into the chamber.

Pro-independence Basque Bildu and Galician BNG, running on a joint ticket, were voted by 2.08% of people and got one representative, with the candidacy Ecologists and Valencian nationalists also getting one MEP after being voted by 1.92% of voters. With the new regulation, they would likely be out of the EU parliament after the reform comes into force.

On the other side of the scale, Catalan parties with stable alliances with Spanish-wide large parties, such as the Socialists or Catalunya en Comú, or branches of Spanish large forces such as Ciutadans or the People's Party, might benefit because potentially more MEPs will be available for them. Yet while the Socialists and the People's Party across Europe supported the amendment, as well as Ciutadans, the Greens (European group including Catalunya en Comú) rejected it.  

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  • Catalan MEPs Jordi Solé, Josep-Maria Terricabras and Ramon Tremosa (by ACN)

  • Catalan MEPs Jordi Solé, Josep-Maria Terricabras and Ramon Tremosa (by ACN)

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