June 6 to 9 are the EU elections. Karin Flordal from Sieps believes that it is an important right, but also an obligation, to make one's voice heard. Photo (left): European Parliament. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Photo (right): Karin Flordal. Source: Sieps.

Interview

Why should you vote in the EU elections?

On June 6 to 9, the EU elections take place. Decisions made at EU level affect us all the time, both big and small. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to understand what the election actually means. The development magazine has talked to Karin Flordal, investigator at Swedish Institute for European Political Studies (Sieps), as believes that one does not need to be an expert on EU issues to vote in the future parliamentsthe choice. 

The last EU election was held in 2019, and the Swedish turnout was then 55 percent. Although this is slightly higher than the average in the EU, it is much lower than in the 2022 parliamentary election, when just over 84 percent of the Swedish population voted. The EU is a complex organization that is difficult to understand, and the decisions made there can feel far away. But the EU is closer than it may seem, says Karin Flordal, head of education and researcher in political science at Sieps. 

- The EU is here. The EU is in Sigtuna and Arvidsjaur just as it is in Parma and Krakow. It affects us in many different ways that we don't think about all day, she says. 

One need look no further than the contents of the food in the fridge, in the soap in the shower or in the toys at the children's preschool to see how much decision-making at EU level affects our everyday lives - because The EU determines which substances and materials may be sold and used within the member states. In addition, the EU influences how Sweden must relate to major political issues. For example, according to EU regulations, we must be a climate-neutral country by 2050 at the latest, and follow the trade agreements with countries outside Europe determined by the EU. 

EU parliamentarians make decisions about EU laws

The purpose of the EU election is for the citizens of the 27 member states to decide who may represent their countries in European Parliament, which is the world's only directly elected transnational parliament. The members who are elected to the European Parliament vote on the legislative proposals put forward by the European Commission.  

21 of the 705 members of the EU Parliament are Swedish representatives. How many members each country is allocated depends on its population, but no country can have more than 96 or fewer than six members. The parliamentary election in June will thus determine which Swedish candidates and parties will be allowed to represent Sweden's population when the parliament decides on new laws over the next five years. After the EU elections this year, the total number of members of the parliament will increase to 720, to better reflect demographic changes in some of the EU countries.  

"A right and an obligation"

Environment and climate and migration are two areas where several important decisions have been made during the last mandate period. In 2021, the European Parliament adopted the EU's common climate goals, which, among other things, means that all member states must reduce their emissions from greenhouse gases by 55 percent before 2030. In April 2024, the new the Migration and Asylum Pact through, which will mean a new start for Europe's migration policy. 

The two issues will probably continue to be relevant during the coming term. Additional issues that are likely to characterize the next five years are AI and digital development. Health issues may also become relevant, as experiences from the covid-19 pandemic have opened up for strengthened cooperation at EU level in health matters. Earlier this year, the EU Parliament approved a joint health data area which will facilitate the exchange of health data at EU level and promote a single market for digital healthcare services. 

- Depending on what you think about these various issues, you also need to choose representatives who you think push those issues in the right direction, says Karin Flordal. 

She draws a parallel to the municipal elections in Sweden, and believes that most Swedes are not familiar with all the issues that the municipality runs. Nevertheless, many people vote for the parties and candidates that best represent one's views. The same way of thinking can be applied before the EU elections. Even though we don't constantly walk around and think about the political decisions that are made, they affect us all the time. 

2024 is a so-called super election year, when a record number of people in the world go to the polls. At the same time, a certain decline of democracy in the world. Karin Flordal believes that this makes it even more important that those of us who are allowed to vote and have access to free elections actually use our vote. 

- If I don't use my voice, someone else can actually use that space without me having been involved and influencing. It is a democratic right to vote in elections, but it is also an obligation, she says.  

Vote in the EU elections

In Sweden, the election day is Sunday, June 9, but early voting has been possible since May 22. To vote early, you take your identification document and your voting card that comes in the mail, and go to any polling station. There are readily available resources if you want to learn more about the issues you think are important before you cast your vote. On The European portal you can, for example, briefly read about what is happening in the EU. There's also EU Centre in many places in the country holding various events and webinars. On each party's website, you can read about which ones issues they pursue at EU level. 

Is there something in the text that is not correct? Contact us at opinion@fuf.se

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