Today's elections will be the ninth time that Ireland votes to send delegates to the European Parliament. Thirteen MEPs will be elected, although two of whom will be designated as not taking their seats until Brexit comes into effect. This week's TOTW provides insight into the history and legislative basis for European elections in Ireland.
An election in the State of members to the European Parliament by European electors; European elector means a person entitled to vote at such election: Electoral Act 1992 s.2(1); European Parliament Election Act 1997 s.2(1). A person is entitled to be registered as a European elector in a constituency if he has reached the age of 18 years, is ordinarily resident in that constituency and is either (a) a citizen of Ireland or (b) a national of another EU Member State (ibid 1992 Act s.9).
A national of another EU Member State, other than the UK, is required to produce a statutory declaration to be so registered (ibid 1997 Act s.6). Voting is by secret ballot, with each elector having a single transferable vote, counted by the principles of proportional representation (ibid 1997 Act s.7).
A candidate for election, or for nomination as a replacement candidate, must have reached the age of 21 and must be either (a) a citizen of Ireland, or (b) a national of another EU Member State and normally resident in Ireland, and not be disqualified from being a candidate eg of unsound mind (ibid 1997 Act s.11; 1992 Act s.41). Ireland elected 15 MEPs in 1979 but that number was reduced to 13 for the 2004 elections, to 12 for the 2009 elections and to 11 for the 2014 elections as part of the redistribution of seats that was necessary as a result of the enlargement of the EU. For elections held in 2014 onwards, 11 MEPs were elected in three constituencies: Dublin (3), Midlands-North West (4), and South (4). The European Parliament Elections (Amdt) Act 2004 (a) extends the number of office holders who are ineligible for election, (b) provides for the termination of the dual mandate, and (c) prohibits the declaration of the result of the poll until polling has closed in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote. A limit of €230,000 has been set for the aggregate election expenses for a candidate in any European Parliament constituency: SI No 87 of 2004. Also provision has been made for the inclusion of photographs of candidates and the emblems of political parties on the ballot paper: SI No 82 of 2009 which replaced SI No 204 of 2004.
The Electoral (Amendment) Act 2014 repealed the provisions in the Electoral Act 1992 and the European Parliament Elections Act 1997 which disqualify an undischarged bankrupt from eligibility for election to or membership of the Dáil and the European Parliament. See CASUAL VACANCY; DEATH OF CANDIDATE; ELECTION DEPOSIT; EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT; ELECTION PETITION, EUROPEAN; PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION.
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