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Czech Republic / Constitutional Court / Pl. ÚS 14/14

Mgr. Alexandra Uhlová, Pavlína Placáková, Strana Zelených (Green Party)

Policy area:
Free movement and equality
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Constitutional Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

In May 2014, elections to the European Parliament were held in the Czech Republic. In § 47 (2) of the Act No. 62/2003 Coll. on Elections to the European Parliament (Zákon o volbách do Evropského parlamentu) a 5% electoral threshold is set. The plaintiffs (among them a political party that did not succeed due to the electoral threshold) contested the legality of the elections before the Supreme Administrative Court. During the decision-making process, the Supreme Administrative Court found that the legality of the electoral threshold is a question that has to be decided by the Constitutional Court; therefore, they had the case transferred to the Constitutional Court.

The plaintiffs argued that the existence of the electoral threshold makes the right to vote unequal because the votes of minority parties’ voters are not taken into consideration in the conversion process. The diversity of European Parliament members is desirable and does not threaten the functioning of the EU Parliament because elected members of the EU Parliament associate in larger political groups.

The Constitutional Court argued that although there are binding documents of EU law regulating elections to the EU Parliament, every Member State regulates the details of the election process itself. The electoral threshold is established in 14 out of 28 Member States. The electoral threshold guarantees the compatibility of elected members of the EU Parliament with some of the political groups represented in the European Parliament. 

Outcome of the case: 

The Constitutional Court decided that the 5% electoral threshold is in conformity with national and EU law. The European Parliament is an EU institution with strong powers and it is desirable to guarantee the compatibility of elected members of the EU Parliament with some of the political groups represented by the electoral threshold. Using the electoral threshold in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the European Parliament is a breach of neither national nor EU law, since a proportional representation system is in place.