European Parliament election, 1979

European Parliament election, 1979

Discussion
Ask a question about 'European Parliament election, 1979'
Start a new discussion about 'European Parliament election, 1979'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The 1979 European elections were parliamentary election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

s held across all 9 (at the time) European Community member states. They were the first European elections
Elections in the European Union
Elections to the Parliament of the European Union take place every five years by universal adult suffrage. 736 MEPs are elected to the European Parliament which has been directly elected since 1979. No other body is directly elected although the Council of the European Union and European Council is...

 to be held, allowing citizens to elect 410 MEPs
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 to the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

, and also the first international election in history.

Seats in the Parliament had been allocated to the states according to population, and in some cases were divided into constituencies
European Parliament constituency
Members of the European Parliament are elected by the population of the member states of the European Union , divided into constituencies....

, but members sat according to political groups.

Background

National Distribution of Seats
Apportionment in the European Parliament
Apportionment in the European Parliament relates to the distribution of legislative seats in the European Parliament among the states of the European Union...

State Seats State Seats
81 81
81 81
25 24
16 15
6  

The Treaty of Rome
Treaty of Rome
The Treaty of Rome, officially the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, was an international agreement that led to the founding of the European Economic Community on 1 January 1958. It was signed on 25 March 1957 by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany...

 which established the Communities specified that the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 must be elected by universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 using a common voting system
Voting system
A voting system or electoral system is a method by which voters make a choice between options, often in an election or on a policy referendum....

. The Council of the European Union
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union is the institution in the legislature of the European Union representing the executives of member states, the other legislative body being the European Parliament. The Council is composed of twenty-seven national ministers...

 was responsible for setting up the elections but it had procrastinated. As a stop-gap measure, members were appointed to the Parliament by the member states from their own national parliaments, as they had done since the Common Assembly. The Parliament was unhappy with this and threatened to take the Council to the European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

. The Council eventually agreed to elections and the first European Parliament elections were held in 1979 after proposals were put forward in the mid 1970s. The issue of a common voting method was left undecided, and even to this day the voting methods vary from member state to member state, although all have used some form of proportional representation since 1999.

The campaigns



The campaigns varied. The former Social Democrat
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 German Chancellor Willy Brandt took an international campaign to France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands to boost the Socialist group. On the other hand, the former Prime Minister of France
Prime Minister of France
The Prime Minister of France in the Fifth Republic is the head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France. The head of state is the President of the French Republic...

 Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 used the election to gauge his popularity against the then-President of France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing
Valéry Marie René Georges Giscard d'Estaing is a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981...

, in anticipation of a presidential bid in 1981.

Election


In June, the 410 members
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 were elected by universal suffrage. At the time there were no rules on the system of election to be used. The United Kingdom used a plurality voting system
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

 for multiple small constituencies in England, Wales and Scotland but the other member states used proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 for fewer larger constituencies (usually the member state itself as a single constituency), albeit with different methods of seat allocation.

The electorate took little interest but average voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 was 63%. The lowest turn out was in the United Kingdom with 32.2%: all others were above 50% apart from Denmark. Aside from Belgium and Luxembourg, where voting is compulsory
Compulsory voting
Compulsory voting is a system in which electors are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling place, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as fines, community service, or perhaps imprisonment if fines are unpaid...

, the highest turnout was in Italy with 84.9%.

Final results



Socialist parties working together under the Europe-wide Confederation of Socialist Parties
Party of European Socialists
The Party of European Socialists is a European political party led by Sergei Stanishev, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. The PES comprises social-democratic national-level political parties primarily from Member state of the European Union, as well as other nations of the European continent. The...

 won the most seats: the resultant Socialist group had 113 MEPs. Christian Democrat parties united within the pan-European European People's Party
European People's Party
The European People's Party is a pro-European centre-right European political party. The EPP was founded in 1976 by Christian democratic parties, but later it increased its membership to include conservative parties and parties of other centre-right perspectives.The EPP is the most influential of...

 came second, with the resultant group having 107 MEPs. The largest third force was the Conservative European Democrats
European Democrats
The European Democrats was a loose association of conservative political parties in Europe. It is a political group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe...

 with 64, followed by Communists
Party of the European Left
The Party of the European Left, commonly abbreviated to just the European Left, is a political party at European level and an association of democratic socialist and communist political parties in the European Union and other European countries. It was formed in January 2004 for the purposes of...

 with 44. The Liberal Democrats
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe is a transnational alliance between two European political parties: the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party and the European Democratic Party. It has political groups in the European Parliament, the EU Committee of the Regions, the...

 had 40 seats, although their candidate was elected as President.

The groups formed were loose coalitions based on the groups founded in previous years, but they soon became the basis for modern European political parties.

Statistics


Post election



Louise Weiss
Louise Weiss
Louise Weiss was a French author, journalist, feminist and European politician.- Life :Louise Weiss came from a cosmopolitan family of Alsace. The ancestors of her Jewish mother, Jeanne Javal, originated from the small Alsatian town of Seppois-le-Bas...

, who was 86 at the time, was found to be Parliament's oldest member and hence presided over the chamber while the election of the President
President of the European Parliament
The President of the European Parliament presides over the debates and activities of the European Parliament. He or she also represents the Parliament within the EU and internationally. The President's signature is required for enacting most EU laws and the EU budget.Presidents serve...

 took place (July 1979). Before that could happen however, she immediately had to deal with Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley
Ian Richard Kyle Paisley, Baron Bannside, PC is a politician and church minister in Northern Ireland. As the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party , he and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness were elected First Minister and deputy First Minister respectively on 8 May 2007.In addition to co-founding...

 MEP who, in the first speech of the session, protested that the British flag
Flag of the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland uses as its national flag the royal banner known as the Union Flag or, popularly, Union Jack. The current design of the Union Flag dates from the union of Ireland and Great Britain in 1801...

 outside the building was flying upside down. She dealt with the interruption swiftly. The confrontation was seen as one of her finest hours and she later confided that, as a grandmother, she was used to dealing with "recalcitrant youngsters".

There were five candidates for President of the European Parliament
President of the European Parliament
The President of the European Parliament presides over the debates and activities of the European Parliament. He or she also represents the Parliament within the EU and internationally. The President's signature is required for enacting most EU laws and the EU budget.Presidents serve...

: Giorgio Amendola
Giorgio Amendola
Giorgio Amendola was an Italian writer and politician.Born in Rome in 1907, he was the son of Lithuanian intellectual Eva Kuhn and Giovanni Amendola, a liberal anti-fascist who died in 1926 in Cannes after having been attacked by killers hired by Benito Mussolini...

, Italian Communist
Party of the European Left
The Party of the European Left, commonly abbreviated to just the European Left, is a political party at European level and an association of democratic socialist and communist political parties in the European Union and other European countries. It was formed in January 2004 for the purposes of...

, Emma Bonino
Emma Bonino
Emma Bonino is an Italian politician, former Member of the European Parliament and current Member of the Italian Senate. She is a leading member of the Italian Radicals, a political party that supports economic and social libertarianism, and human rights...

, Italian Technical Independent
European Free Alliance
The European Free Alliance is a European political party. It consists of various national-level political parties in Europe which advocate either full political independence , or some form of devolution or self-governance for their country or region...

, Christian de La Malène, French Progressive Democrat
Union for Europe of the Nations
Union for Europe of the Nations was a political group of the European Parliament between 1999 and 2009.-History:UEN was formed on 20 July 1999, supplanting the earlier Union for Europe. Its member parties Fianna Fáil and National Alliance were the driving forces behind the group, despite their...

, Simone Veil
Simone Veil
Simone Veil, DBE is a French lawyer and politician who served as Minister of Health under Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, President of the European Parliament and member of the Constitutional Council of France....

, French Liberal
European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party is a European political party mainly active in the European Union, composed of 56 national-level liberal and liberal-democratic parties from across Europe...

, and Mario Zagari, Italian Socialist
Party of European Socialists
The Party of European Socialists is a European political party led by Sergei Stanishev, former Prime Minister of Bulgaria. The PES comprises social-democratic national-level political parties primarily from Member state of the European Union, as well as other nations of the European continent. The...

.

In the first ballot, Veil secured 183 of the 380 votes cast - eight short of the absolute majority needed. The next closest contender was Zagari with 118 votes, then Amendola with 44, de la Malène with 26 and Bonino with 9. Bonino and de la Malène dropped out and Veil secured an absolute majority in the second ballot with 192 of the 377 votes cast (Zagari gained 128 and Amendola 47). Veil was elected as the first President of the elected Parliament, and first female President of the Parliament since it was founded in 1952.

The following were elected as Vice-Presidents: Danielle De March, Basil de Ferranti
Basil de Ferranti
Basil Reginald Vincent Ziani de Ferranti was a British businessman and a Conservative Party politician. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was the grandson of the electrical engineer and inventor Sebastian de Ferranti.He was an unsuccessful candidate at the 1955 general...

, Bruno Friedrich, Guido Gonella, Gérard Jacquet, Hans Katzer, Poul Møller, Pierre Pflimlin
Pierre Pflimlin
Pierre Eugène Jean Pflimlin was a French Christian democratic politician who served as the penultimate Prime Minister of the Fourth Republic for a few weeks in 1958, before being replaced by Charles de Gaulle during the crisis of that year.-Life:...

, Bríd Rodgers
Bríd Rodgers
Bríd Rodgers , born Bríd Stratford Bríd Rodgers (Irish: Bríd Mhic Ruairí), born Bríd Stratford Bríd Rodgers (Irish: Bríd Mhic Ruairí), born Bríd Stratford (born 20 February 1935, in Gweedore [Gaoth Dobhair], County Donegal, Ireland, is a former Irish nationalist politician....

, Marcel Albert Vandewiele, Anne Vondeling
Anne Vondeling
Anne Vondeling was a member and former chairman of the Dutch Labour Party.He was minister in fourth Drees cabinet and vice prime minister in the Cals cabinet. Later he became President of Dutch House of Representatives, in which capacity he put much emphasis on the usage of correct and clear...

 and Mario Zagari.

Previously the Parliament was a weak consultative assembly, the members of which were part time. With the elections the new body of MEPs
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 were full time, energetic and more diverse. As soon as the Parliament was established the "old guard" MEPs of the larger parties sought to raise the bar at which a European Parliament political group could be formed (the status gave financial support and representation in committees). This move was quickly blocked by smaller groups working together and filibuster
Filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

ing the proposal. The ties formed at this time laid the foundations of the Rainbow group: an alliance of left-wing
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 and green parties which later became the European Greens–European Free Alliance
European Greens–European Free Alliance
The Greens European Free Alliance is one of the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament....

 group.

See also


  • Members of the European Parliament 1979-1984
    Members of the European Parliament 1979-1984
    *MEPs for Belgium 1979–1984*MEPs for Denmark 1979–1984*MEPs for France 1979–1984*MEPs for Greece 1979–1984*MEPs for Germany 1979–1984*MEPs for Ireland 1979–1984*MEPs for Italy 1979–1984*MEPs for Luxembourg 1979–1984*MEPs for the Netherlands 1979–1984...

  • History of the European Communities (1973-1993)
    History of the European Communities (1973-1993)
    Between 1973 and 1993 the European Communities saw the first enlargement of the Communities and increasing integration under the Delors Commission leading to the creation of the European Union in 1993....


External links