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European elections how does it work

(6 Posts)
Noeuf Sat 11-May-19 16:46:56

Ok so i know I can google but I haven't really paid much attention to them before. In my head there was Nigel Farage.

Just got my postal vote and there's a huge number of potential parties with a load of candidates under them - see photo. So if I voted eg Lib Dem which one of them would win? And how come there are about ten for the south east for different parties currently?

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Prynhawn Mon 13-May-19 11:11:00

Hi I can explain this - I will try to be succinct but the system is a bit longwinded.

Firstly; the long lists of names. In EU elections, you do not vote for a single MEP, you vote for a party. That list represents each parties choice of MEPs. The order in the list is the order of preference of that party. So if Labour win 4 seats in London, they will make the first 4 names on that list MEPs etc etc.

Secondly; who would win. The form of PR voting in EU elections works like this: In the first round all votes are counted, and the party with the most votes is awarded a seat. The votes for this party are then halved and the votes compared again, whichever party has the most votes in this round is given the second seat and has their vote count halved. This goes on and on until all seats have been allocated.

As an example - Labour get 2000 votes, Con get 1500, Brexit party get 1200 in an area with 4 MEP seats. In the first round Labour win (L:2000, C: 1500, BP:1200). In the second round Con win (L:1000, C:1500, BP:1200). In the third round Brexit Party win (L:1000, C:750, BP:1200). In the final round Labour win again (L:1000, C:750, BP:600). So in the end Labour get 2 MEPs, Con get 1, and Brexit Party gets one.

This form of PR reduces the need for tactical voting, but doesn't eliminate it. Very small parties are wiped out if they cannot secure enough votes to win a single round, and landslides are rewarded by winning multiple rounds with ease.

So basically, vote for who you want. This isn't like a GE.

Noeuf Mon 13-May-19 12:13:04


Thank you, that makes sense I think. Just very surprised at the form when I received it!

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Devondoggydaycare Wed 15-May-19 07:36:58

This is why the Brexit Party could easily sweep the board if Labour & Tory voters switch allegiane to them, whilst the Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK will struggle when the remain vote splits. I quite like this explanation in the Guardian from earlier this week:

Unlike in winner-takes-all general elections, the voting system is proportional. Parties select a list of candidates for each region, and voters just choose a party. Independents are treated as parties with a single candidate.

When the votes are counted, the party with the most votes takes the first seat. To allocate the second and subsequent seats, the original vote totals are divided by the number of seats parties have gained, plus one. In effect, this means a party’s vote count is halved after winning its first seat, and reduced by two-thirds after its second, and so on. This approach is known as the D’Hondt method (after the 19th-century Belgian polymath who invented it, Victor d’Hondt).

Just to mix things up, Northern Ireland uses a different system – single transferable vote, where voters list candidates in order of preference.

Devondoggydaycare Wed 15-May-19 07:37:33


Noeuf Wed 15-May-19 07:49:32

That's a good explanation too.

I do approve of PR actually; I don't like the Labour/Conservative swing every few years. However it does give a voice to parties I would consider undesirable but I guess that's representative. Plus it's not like Farage is hidden away just because he's not an MP - LBC, Question Time, Andrew Marr...

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