Martina Leljak

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Institutions of the EU

First direct elections of the parliament of the EU: A milestone?

by Martina Leljak, 2010

European Parliament is the only political body in the European Union, which is directly elected by the citizens of the European Union, but till 1979 that was not the case.

The predecessor of the European Parliament held its first meeting on 10 September 1952 (under the current name it is known since 1962). At that time the European Parliament represented only a consultative body of the European Coal and Steel Community and did not have any legislative power. At that time it had only 78 members. The European Parliament, as we know it nowadays, was set up with the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and it held for the first time a year later. Until 1979 the member of the Parliament were chosen by the state parliamentarians. From 7 to 10 June 1979 the European Union posed a major historical milestone, because the direct elections of the European Parliament were held for the first time. For the first time in history the citizens of the European Union chose the members of the Parliament. Ever since the 1979 the elections have taken place every five years. Members are not divided according to countries, but in seven political groups. In some cases the groups are political parties and in some they are coalitions of a number of national parties, European parties and indipendent politicians. Today the European Parliament has 736 members from all 27 countries.

The major advantage of direct voting in the European Parliament is the power of the citizens of the European Union. Now they have the right to express their opinion and they can be represented in parliament by someone who can defend their interests. Every resident of the European Union may stand for election of the European Parliament, no matter from which country he is.

The people’s voice  echoes today!


Martina Leljak

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