The European Parliament elections: The nonsense voting system that the coalition should have scrapped

January 16th, 2014

The weird system made for the party machines

Today we have, see above, the first YouGov poll for the big UK election this year that takes place on May 22nd when 73 UK MEPs will be elected to the European Parliament.

The election is conducted in a total of 12 electoral regions. In eleven of them the party-list proportional representation system is used while in Northern Ireland it is by STV.

What this means is that, as in the ballot paper from London for last time above, you vote for a party not an individual MEP. The votes are counted and the number of MEPs each party will get in each region is allocated according to a complex system.

Who gets to become an MEP from each party is determnied by their ranking on the party list. So if UKIP get two seats in London the top two on the list go to Brussels.

    I loathe this because there’s almost no link between voters and the individuals elected. When polled far fewer than 5% of us can name any of our MEPs.

Because the key element in becoming an MEP is getting high on a party regional list the individuals concerned really don’t have to sell themselves to the electorate at large. The key element is working the party selection process and there’s little accountablity to voters.

I know that the coalition was looking at ways of changing this so voters would choose individuals not parties but nothing came of it.

Is it any wonder that the turnouts in these election are very low? Last time it was under 35% and my guess is that it will be about the same again.

So a key element is the polling is is turnout filtering which is notorously difficult when such a small proportion of voters take part.

Take these early polls with a pinch of salt.

Mike Smithson

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