During the European elections, the votes allocated to certain candidates will not allow them to be elected to the European Parliament and will risk strengthening other parties. For what ?

Will the French vote in the European elections on June 9? This election does not tend to be very popular with voters. During previous elections of this type, more than 49% of people registered on the electoral lists abstained from voting. The abstention rate could be still high in 2024… As proof: one month before the election, 48% of French people say they are not interested in the European elections according to the ViaVoice barometer carried out for Radio France, France Télévisions and France Médias World.

Usually every vote counts in an election, but with fewer ballots cast on the day, the smallest vote takes on even greater importance, because it takes little to swing the outcome of the election. The vote in the European elections must therefore be considered. Especially since at the end of the ballot, the votes granted to certain candidates will have the same value as invalid votes. For what ? Because of the 5% threshold.

An explanation is in order: during European elections, MEPs are elected using a multi-member proportional voting system. This means that the 81 seats in the European Parliament reserved for French elected representatives will be distributed between the lists of the different candidates according to the score obtained by each of them. The higher the score, the more seats a party is granted. But the lists have the obligation to reach a minimum score of 5% of the votes to obtain seats in the hemicycle. A list receiving 4.99% of the votes has no elected representatives. Voting for a party that does not reach this threshold is therefore pointless.

It is this voting method which motivates the candidates and political parties to come to the top of the ballot, but for the lists which are not part of the favorites, the objective is above all to obtain more than 5% of the votes. However, according to the results of the European election polls, several of them are credited with lower scores. This is the case for the smallest lists affiliated with none of the eight main French political parties. Certain major political groups are also in great danger: the PCF is only credited with 2 to 3.5% of voting intentions, others may have shaky legs like EELV and Reconquest, with lists given a little above 5%. And if on election day, the results obtained by these lists are well below 5%, then all of the votes given to these candidates will have counted for nothing in the vote. Of course, current polls say nothing about end-of-campaign trends and this explanatory article is not intended to denigrate a list, but to point out what happens when we vote for a list that is less than 5%.

Voting for a list which ultimately has less than 5% even strengthens the others: these votes will automatically gain additional seats for the other parties. Candidates having scored less than 5% cannot obtain the number of seats corresponding to their small score, even one or two, due to the threshold, these few seats will be redistributed among all candidates having scored better than 5%.

This redistribution does not take into account the party to which the votes were originally intended: whatever the lists in the lead – from the right, from the left or from the extremes – they will be reinforced by the votes of the disqualified lists which they come from left or right.