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From 6 to 9 June 2024, millions of Europeans will help shape the future of European democracy in the European elections.

While democracy is considered a given for many citizens within the European Union, it is a luxury that only came about after decades of struggle and sacrifice. Voting is more than a right; it is a legacy of previous European generations who fought for the freedom to influence the future of their country and continent. With the European elections approaching in 2024, this opportunity to influence the direction of the European Union becomes even more important. The Netherlands and Belgium, each with their own electoral systems and rules, are preparing for this important democratic act.

In the Netherlands, where voting is not mandatory, the European elections will take place on June 6, 2024. Every EU citizen aged 18 and over is entitled to vote. Dutch voters will elect 31 MEPs, an increase of five seats since the previous election in 2019, partly thanks to the United Kingdom's departure from the EU. Dutch people have the option of preferential voting, which means that they can directly influence which candidates from their chosen parties may be elected.

Meanwhile, Belgium, where voting is mandatory for everyone aged 16 and over, has its own unique rules and procedures. The Belgian elections, scheduled for June 9, 2024, require every voter to enter a voting booth, but also offer the freedom to vote blank. Belgians can choose to vote for a party list or specific candidates within that list, which affects the ranking of the candidates in terms of who is ultimately elected. In 2024, 22 Belgian parliamentarians will be elected. This electoral system ensures proportional representation where each party is allocated seats based on the total number of votes received.

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European Parliament Brussels
Photo: © Pitane Blue - European Parliament Brussels

Nowadays, democracy seems almost self-evident to us in the European Union, but that has not always been the case. It is something we achieved together.

De regulations voting age has recently undergone changes. Following a change in the law in 2023, 16 and 17 year olds can now also vote in Belgium, although a decision by the Constitutional Court on March 21, 2024 confirmed that these young people will be obliged to participate in the elections on June 9, 2024. This shows an evolution in democratic participation and the recognition of the political voice of young people in Belgium.

These developments highlight the dynamic and evolving nature of democratic processes in Europe. As European citizens prepare to cast their votes, they reflect not only on their rights and freedoms, but also on their responsibilities to preserve and strengthen these freedoms for future generations. The 2024 European elections are not just a routine procedure, but a crucial moment in the continued development of democracy on the continent of our European future.

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