Politics Simplified: Voting For Your MEPs

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“Brexit Day” was scheduled to occur on the 29th March 2019. Yet this month, the United Kingdom will go to the polls once more to elect representatives to the European Union, despite over half of the electorate expressing a desire to leave back in 2016. However, the terms of the UK’s MEPs are unlikely to last the full 5 years, as their positions are set to be lost when the UK leaves the EU. The deadline for the extended negotiations is 31st October 2019.

Whether the UK successfully severs itself from the EU by that date will be determined by Theresa May’s ability to negotiate a deal that will satisfy both the EU and the divided UK Parliament. In Thursday’s local elections the Conservatives lost 1334 council seats; the Party’s worst performance since 1995. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, who are engaged in cross-party talks, have interpreted these results as a desire by the British people to: “get a deal done”.

Elections to the European Parliament will be taking place on Thursday 23rd May across the United Kingdom. If you wish to use your democratic right, you needed to register to vote by 7th May. Eligible to vote are British citizens aged 18 or over, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and EU residents in the UK.

Credit: European Parliament

For elections to the European Parliament, the UK is divided into 12 regions. These regions are: East Midlands, Eastern, London, North East, North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West, Wales, West Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber. Southampton is in the South East region and is represented by ten Members of the European Parliament. Currently these representatives are: Nigel Farage (The Brexit Party), Diane James (The Brexit Party), Raymond Finch (The Brexit Party), Daniel Hannan (Conservative Party), Nirj Deva (Conservative Party), Janice Atkinson (Independent), Richard Ashworth (Change UK – The Independent Group), Catherine Bearder (Liberal Democrats), Keith Taylor (Green Party) and John Howarth (Labour Party).

You could register to vote at both your term time address and your home address if they are different. However, you may only vote at one of these addresses on election day. In England, Scotland and Wales the Closed List electoral system is used. Under this proportional electoral system you are granted one vote which you may cast for a single party. The greater a political party’s vote share, the more of their list of candidates are elected. Northern Ireland uses the Single Transferable Vote electoral system. If your home address is in Northern Ireland and you decide to cast your vote there, you will instead have to rank the candidates in preference order. Hoping to secure your vote in the South East of England are Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Change UK, The Brexit Party, UKIP, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, UK European Union Party and three Independents.

Although the terms of the MEPs that are elected by the UK may last only a matter of months, their presence has potential longer term impacts. For instance, the largest Pan-European grouping of MEPs that align politically will be able to select the most powerful role in the European Union – the next President of the European Commission. Since 1999 the centre-right has dominated the Parliament. However, a successful night for the UK’s Labour Party on the 23rd of May could strengthen the socialist bloc, allowing it to shift the entire agenda of the EU leftwards.

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