Transnational lists could bring European issues and more voter turnout, but everything has its time, Telička says

In March 2019, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Today, the European Parliament will vote on the question what will happen to the 73 seats that currently belong to British Members of the European Parliament.

During his election campaign French President, Emmanuel Macron, proposed that part of the seats should be filled on the basis of transnational lists. It is an electoral list that holds the entire territory of the Union as its constituency, rather than a member state or a region of a member state. The European constituency will exist in parallel to the existing national constituencies. Each EU citizen will receive 2 votes. One vote to be cast on the lists in their national or regional constituency as is the case now, and one vote for the European constituency in which the voter can vote for a transnational list. The first lists on each list will be the European political party’s Spitzenkandidat for the post of the President of the Commission. This will give all EU voters the possibility to vote for the Sptitzenkandidaten.

"The division of seats in the European Parliament is a politically sensitive issue. That is why we must ensure that they are distributed fairly and transparently. The paradox is that while there is a need for more discussion, many Czech politicians have rejected the idea from start," Telička said. The Czech Republic, along with other Visegrad Four countries, do not support the idea of transnational lists. The main argument being that it would only benefit large Member States. Therefore, MEPs would not have the incentive to campaign in smaller countries. "Of course, we need to ensure that lists on the transitional list are geographically balanced. What many in the Czech Republic miss however is the fact that this issue is already addressed by a proposed amendment," added Telicka. The amendment will ensure that bigger Member States will not be able to receive a large number of seats. 

According to Telička, today's European elections are nothing but a selection of several national elections. "It is not a truly European election. Under the right circumstances, joint lists could bring European-wide issues into the debate and thus strengthen the European dimension of the election," Telička explains, "Today, lists mainly focus on domestic issues.  This is part of the reason why electoral participation in the European elections is very low in the Czech Republic. Transnational lists could attract more voters, but above all, stimulate the debate about the future of the EU and the role of the Czech Republic. In addition, today decisions are taken at the intergovernmental level in backroom deals. Smaller Members States often do not have much influence over the top positions. We should also have the confidence to put forward a 'heavy weight' who would have the chance to take one of the top position in the EU institutions.’’ 

Telička conludes,"It is a mistake that Czech politicians are rejecting something that - when done well - can create a lot of opportunities for strengthening the position of the Czech Republic's in the EU."


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