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Germany lowers threshold for European Parliament entry

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(BERLIN) - German lawmakers have lowered the threshold of votes that a political party must win to secure seats in the European Parliament.

The vote by German MPs overnight to drop the current five percent hurdle to three percent follows a November 2011 ruling by Germany's highest court.

The Constitutional Court had said the five percent-marker was unconstitutional for European elections because it put small parties at a disadvantage, although it did not suggest an alternative level.

Apart from the far-left Linke party which objects to the principle of imposing a threshold, all the parties in the Bundestag lower house of parliament backed the move.

However the five percent hurdle remains valid in elections for the Bundestag.

The Karlsruhe-based court, in its ruling, had highlighted the structural differences between the Bundestag, which elects the German government, and the European Parliament.

Countries decide their own rules for electing lawmakers to the European Parliament.

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