IATE Term of the Week: ballot


At the first plenary sitting of 2017 (17/01), the European Parliament was due to elect its 30th President. The result of which has been that Antonio Tajani will replace Martin Schulz and take up the responsibilities until 2019. On this occasion, we have chosen ballot as our Term of the Week.

But first, let’s have an overview about how the selection and election procedure works: hemicycle-strasbourg-european-parliament

The European Parliament is elected for five years. Since the first EP election by universal suffrage in 1979, the President is elected by the Members of the EP and remains in office for a renewable period of two and a half years. So, during each legislative term, a first election is normally held in July, immediately after the election of the new Parliament, and a second, mid-term election, is held two and a half years later, in January.

The President is elected based on nominations, which may be handed in before every ballot, with the nominees’ consent. They are proposed by the political groups.

The vote is cast by secret ballot and depending on the number of votes for each nominee there could be up to four rounds. Candidates may withdraw and new ones may enter the contest before the second and third ballot. The President has to be elected with an absolute majority, however, if no candidate wins the absolute majority of valid votes cast in the first three ballots, the two best-scoring candidates in the third round go through to a fourth round, in which the President is elected by simple majority.


IATE ballot


About the term itself, a ballot can be define as a slip or sheet of paper, cardboard, or the like, on which a voter marks his or her vote. It comes from the Italian word pallotte, a diminutive of palla (“ball”), which was a small ball used in voting as well. Its earliest references are set in Venice, around 1540s, then extended to tickets or sheets of papers used in secret voting, around 1770s.


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Written by Ana Jiménez Morente
Content Editor.
Communication Trainee, DG TRAD – Terminology Coordination Unit