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The Voting System

In England, Scotland and Wales the voting system for the European elections is the d'Hondt system of proportional representation - regional closed list.  In Northern Ireland the system is Single Transferable Vote.

Since 1999 voters in Britain have elected MEPs under a proportional representation system. The European Parliamentary Elections Act of that year introduced a regional list system with seats allocated to parties in proportion to their share of the vote.

In the last elections, in 2009, all MEPs in the European Parliament were elected under some form of proportional representation. Differences exist between Member States for example in the methods used (eg. Droop quota, d'Hondt system, Single Transferable Vote) or in the constituency unit (regional or national).

Proportional Representation - regional closed list

This means that political parties put forward names of candidates in rank order, the number of candidates being no more than the number of seats allowed for each region.  

The ballot paper lists the parties' names (and their candidates under the party name), and any independent candidates. Put a cross next to the party or independent candidate that you wish to vote for.

How are the seats allocated in European elections in the England, Scotland and Wales?

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Illustrative example

If there are five parties contesting five seats in one region and the votes are cast as follows:

Smartie Party:    100 votes
Jelly Baby Party: 80 votes
Lollipop Party:    40 votes
Kit Kat Party:       20 votes
Aero Party:          10 votes

The first seat: the Smartie Party has the most votes so the first seat goes to it (the seat goes to the candidate at the top of the list of Smartie Party candidates, independent candidates being treated as a list with only one candidate on it).

The second seat: the number of votes for the Smartie Party is now divided by 2 (i.e. the number of seats the party has plus one) so the votes are now as shown below. The Jelly Baby Party now has the most votes so it gets the second seat (which goes to the person at the top of the list of Jelly Baby Party candidates).

Smartie Party now has (100 divided by 2) = 50 votes
Jelly Baby Party: 80 votes
Lollipop Party:    40 Votes
Kit Kat Party:       20 votes
Aero Party:          10 votes

The third seat: the number of votes for the Jelly Baby party is now divided by 2 (i.e. the number of seats the party now has plus one), so the votes are now as shown below. The third seat goes to the Smartie Party, which at 50 votes now has the highest number of votes. The seat goes to the second person on the Smartie Party list of candidates.

Smartie Party:    50 votes
Jelly Baby Party now has (80 divided 2) = 40 votes
Lollipop Party:   40 votes
Kit Kat Party:      20 votes
Aero Party:         10 votes

The fourth and fifth seats: the original number of votes for the Smartie Party is now divided by 3 (i.e. the number of seats it now has plus one). So now when it comes to allocating the fourth and the fifth seat, the Jelly Baby party and the Lollipop Party both have 40 votes and will be given the fourth and fifth seats. One seat goes to the second candidate on the Jelly Baby list and the other one to the first person on Lollipop Party candidate list.

Smartie Party has (100 divided by 3) = 33 votes
Jelly Baby Party: 40 votes
Lollipop Party:    40 votes
Kit Kat Party:       20 votes
Aero Party:          10 votes

The final result is:

Smartie Party:     2 seats
Jelly Baby Party: 2 seats
Lollipop Party:    1 seat
Kit Kat Party:       0 seats
Aero Party:          0 seats

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Single Transferable Vote (STV)

How are the seats allocated in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland the system is Single Transferable Vote.

The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate and their party name. Rank the candidates in order of preference, a 1 next to your first choice, a 2 next to your second, and so on, ranking as many as you wish.

 

See the Electoral Commission for further information