Thursday, 30 April 2009

Why you might only get half a vote in Europe

The European Parliament is made up of 785 members from 27 different countries. Traditionally over here most people just vote for the same party they vote for in UK elections; but that simply doesn't work in the very different and diverse European Parliament.. The voting system is totally different as well.

Voting for your local MEP is based on the unusual d'Hondt system; this is a long way away from the normal voting system we have for our parliament here in the UK.

It works as follows: In a given region the allocated seats are awarding using a quota system. The quota is the total number of votes received by a party (or if an independent candidate is standing alone) divided by the number of seats already gained in that region plus 1.

So, for a party with no seats the number of votes received is divided by one, and so stays the same. If the party has already been allocated one seat then its number of votes is divided by two, if it has two seats it is divided by three, and so on.

This means that the more seats you have already won, the harder it is to gain extra seats, so the overall allocation of seats is more proportional to the number of votes received.

The first seat that a party wins goes to the first person on its list, the second seat to the second person, and so on, until the party has either not won any more seats or has run out of names on its list.

The trouble with this emphasis on party voting is that of course the European Parliament doesn't have Conservatives, Labours, UKIP, Liberals and so forth. Members in the European Parliament are bunched into loosely named "similar" parties which are not at all the same as the parties here in the UK. As the European Parliament is made up of 785 members from 27 different countries; the British parties clearly have to adapt and work with all the others.

Because you only have one vote, by voting for the Jury Team, for the first time in the history of the European Parliament you will be helping to vote in a number of independents. These people will be able to assess what is going in the European Parliament and carry your views forward in the most appropriate manner. They will be best placed to work within the framework of the EU, working independently with members from all the other states to ensure your views are best represented without having to rely on party restrictions.

For the first time ever, here is a chance to bring change into the European Parliament. Vote Jury Team on June 4th - and help make a difference.

Written by Sally Smith, Jury Team MEP Candidate (South West Region)

What I take from that is this; every main party has a core vote that is essentially unchanging and who will turn out no matter what. In Scotland, these are the votes that guarantee the main parties will send a representative to Europe.

Every vote they receive after they cross the finishing line is at least halved. If you are reading this, chances are you aren't a core voter and you're looking around to see what else is on offer. Why not cast your vote where it will carry its full weight?

Use your vote wisely on June 4th. Vote where it counts.

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