Thursday, 18 April 2019

European Parliament Elections - May 2019

The United Kingdom will, almost certainly*, take part in elections to the European Parliament which will be held over 23-26 May 2019.

The European Parliament is directly elected and comprises 751 Members (MEP) who serve for a 5 year term.  The UK has a total of 73 MEP.

Elections in the UK will take place over 12 REGIONS: 9 English regions plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The number of MEP per Region are:


Number of MEP

Northern Ireland
North East
North West
Yorkshire and Humberside
East Midlands
West Midlands
London Region
South East
South West

Elections take place under proportional representation (PR).  This is a major difference to the "first past the post" elections to the UK Parliament.  Member States must adopt either the List System or the single transferable vote (STV).  For the UK, the List System applies except in Northern Ireland where STV is used.  (Northern Ireland is not considered further in this post).

There are two types of candidates at European Parliamentary elections - Individual candidates or those standing on behalf of a registered party.  Political Parties will draw up LISTS of candidate names.  The voter therefore chooses either to vote for an individual candidate or for a Party List.

I am making no predictions about these elections!   Smaller parties tend to do reasonably well given the system of voting and they certainly perform much better than under first past the post.  Professor Sir John Curtice of Strathclyde University has looked at this issue -  UK in a Changing Europe website 15 April 2019 - All European Parliament Elections are different.  This one especially so.

UK turnout for European Parliament Elections has never exceeded 38%.  Will 2019 be any different?  I certainly hope so.

* The elections take place if the UK is still a Member of the EU on 23-26 May 2019 and if it has not ratified the Withdrawal Agreement by 22 May 2019.

Example of a Voting Form:

The following links offer very good reading on the forthcoming elections and include explanation of how the voting system actually works.  Finally, links are provided to the principal UK legislation.

Electoral Commission

Institute for Government Explainer

Democratic Audit

European Cultural Foundation - 2019 European Parliament elections - Your Vote Matters

EU - Act concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage (20 September 1976) — Consolidated version 2002 - pdf

European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002

European Parliament (Representation) Act 2003 

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