The European Union heads to the polls

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In the largest election in the Western world, residents of the 28 European Union nations are heading to the polls to vote for Members for European Parliament (MEPs).

Voting from May 23 to May 26 will see 751 MEPs elected by the near 512 million population of the EU, in the 9th overall European Union elections.

In the first elections since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the EU faces a battle between pro-EU and Eurosceptic groups.

“There is now a feeling of urgency, Europe is going through an existential crisis,” Amandine Crespy, a professor of European studies at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, told AlJazeera.

Nationalist parties are tipped to make large gains, projected to capture up to a third of available seats. However, despite these potential loses, the pro-EU centre-right and centre-left parties are expected to maintain ascendency and keep key positions.

Following the 2016 referendum the UK was expected to have left the EU by March 29 2019 and not participate in the election of MEPs. The seats in Parliament were planned to decrease to 705, with an increase in other nations seats making up the difference. However, due to the current postponement of Brexit, the UK are participating in the elections and will elect 73 MEPs, with all 751 seats remaining.

MEPs are elected every 5 years, with each member state receiving a set number of seats, roughly proportional to their population. Once in European Parliament, MEPs can nominate to sit with one of eight political groups that have similar political views and ideals, consisting of MEPs from across the EU. To form an official group in Parliament at least 25 MEPs from seven different nationalities are required.

The most recent elections in 2014 saw the Group of the European People’s Party (EEP) win the most seats (221), with 42.6% of people eligible to vote turning out. The EEP’s Jean-Claude Juncker becoming President of the European Commission. Mr. Juncker has stated he will not stand for a second term as President.

Election results will begin to be announced from 10pm BST on May 26.

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