European elections: how they work and what's at stake

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The results of this month’s European Parliament elections, which in France and 21 other countries are to be held today, will be a key test of political parties across the continent, where anti-EU, nationalist and populist groups have been gaining ground on traditional parties. For French President Emmanuel Macron, whose LREM party, strongly pro-EU, is fighting European elections for the first time, the outcome on Sunday will also be a test of the credibility of his ambitions for the bloc. But the polling also lifts the curtain on a series of new appointments to lead the EU’s major institutions, which will hang on the results. Ludovic Lamant presents a guide to how the elections work, and the detail of what’s at stake.    

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The elections to the European Parliament involve a total electorate of around 427 million from across the European Union (EU). The voting is held separately in each member state, over the course of one day, beginning in some countries on May 23rd and ending on May 26th, which is when France goes to the polls. They will decide the makeup of what will be the ninth five-year term of the bloc’s directly elected parliament, which was first elected in 1979.