The party-list proportional representation was the traditional electoral system of the Italian Republic since its foundation in 1946, so it had been adopted to elect the Italian representatives to the European Parliament too. Two levels were used: a national level to divide seats between parties, and a constituency level to distribute them between candidates. Italian regions were united in 5 constituencies, each electing a group of deputies. At national level, seats were divided between party lists using the largest remainder method with Hare quota. All seats gained by each party were automatically distributed to their local open lists and their most voted candidates.
However, the electoral law guarantees representation for linguistic minorities. The parties which represent minorities can be connected with the major parties for the purpose of elections, combining their votes. If the party of the linguistic minority gets more than 50,000 votes, it wins a seat.
After the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the seats of Italy in the European Parliament increased from 72 to 73. The additional seat was assigned to Union of the Centre (that went from 5 to 6 seats).