An obligatory threshold of 2% to 5% for constituencies with more than 35 seats has been set in a draft decision amending the European Union’s 1976 Electoral Act, which lays down common rules concerning elections to the European Parliament. The draft was approved by the European Council on June 7.

The proposed rule, which was agreed after nearly three years of negotiations, would also apply to single-constituency member states. In practice, small parties will be obstructed from gaining seats in the European Parliament.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the restrictions were proposed by three of Germany’s major parties: Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s Christian Democrats (CDU), their Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD).

“Operation successful. Democracy is dead,” said European lawmaker Arne Gericke of the Free Voters, while Carsten Sawosch of the Pirate Party argued that the major parties were simply dismissing “millions of votes in order to get more posts for yourselves”.

Once the text has been finalised in all official languages, it will be submitted to the European Parliament, which will be asked to give its consent to the package as it stands.

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the amendment to the 1976 electoral law in July. After the ratification of the new electoral code by national parliaments, the European Council will formally approve the bill.