What are we voting for in the European elections?

What are we voting for in the European elections?

What are we voting for in the European elections?

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Political reporter

IN just a few days, voters in York will elect the six people who rep - resent the region in the European Parliament.

The vote, on Thursday, is an unusual one for the city.

While in other areas across the country the European vote coin - cides with city or county council polls, in York it’s the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) alone who are up for election.

So without the eye-catching local issues to draw voters into the ballot box, the election in York could fade into obscurity with many people asking - what are we voting for, and why?

THE PARTIES AND THEIR CANDIDATES TEN parties have put candidates forward. Besides the three tradi - tional largest parties - the Con - servatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats - are the Green party, UKIP, and the far right British Nationalist Party (BNP).

Then there are the English Democrats - whose website says they want to “look after English interests”; An Independence From Europe - who want to leave the EU; NO2EU - who want a referendum; and newcomers Yorkshire First who, as the name suggests, want greater autonomy for Yorkshire.

Of the six sitting MEPs, only three are standing for re-election.

Labour’s Linda McAvan, Lib Dem Edward McMillan-Scott and the Conservative’s Timothy Kirkhope are all the first on their parties’ lists- meaning they will be the first people elected for their respective parties.

The last election, in 2009, resulted in two Yorkshire and the Humber Conservative MEPs and one each from Labour, the Lib Dems, UKIP and the BNP.

But the scene has changed signifi - cantly since then. Edward McMil - lan-Scott - then a prominent Tory figure who is vice president of the European parliament - defected to the Lib Dems, meaning the Lib Dems now have two Yorkshire MEPs. And the existing Lib Dem MEP Diana Wallis resigned in 2012, to be replaced by Rebecca Taylor.

Meanwhile, the controversial UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom - known for his comments on “Bongo bongo land” and women who don’t clean behind the fridge - resigned from his party; and Andrew Brons left the BNP to set up the British Demo - cratic Party.

ISSUES FIRST and foremost, the vote will, for many people, be about the UK’s very membership of the EU. Three out of the ten parties stand on an actively anti EU, or at least pro referendum, ticket.

Even the mainstream parties trumpet their stances on Europe heavily in their campaigns - wit - ness Nick Clegg’s head to head with UKIP’s Nigel Farage.

If the votes go to these Euroscep - tic parties, the message will be sent that the British people do not want more integration with the EU.

At the same time, Euro elections shine a light on extremism and minority parties. In the last poll, the far right BNP got one seat in Yorkshire and another in the North West.

And UKIP - a party which does not have a single MP in the House of Commons - came second nation - wide and won 13 European seats - the same as the Labour party and two more than the Liberal Demo - crats.

TURNOUT AT THE 2009 European election around a third of people eligible to vote in the UK did so.

At 34.7 percent, turnout was among the lowest the country has seen in any poll in the post war period. But that was far from the worst recorded - in the 2012 Police and Crime Commissioner elections only 18.5 percent voted - in North Yorkshire that figure was just 14.32 percent.

ELECTORAL SYSTEM Unlike the simple “first past the post” system which elects our MPs, the European elections use a complicated system of Propor - tional Representation to chose representatives for the European Parliament.

The system asks voters to chose a party, rather than a person, and then divides the seats between the parties.

The UK is split up into nine re - gions and Yorkshire and the Hum - ber - our region - elects six MEPs.

So, if one in six of the voters in Yorkshire and the Humber chose, for example, the Conservative party, then the Conservatives can send the first candidate on their list to the European parliament.

The sums get slightly more com - plicated when a party is in line for more than one seat, but essentially one sixth of the vote in Yorkshire and Humber gets a party one MEP, two sixths get it two MEPs, and so on.

THE CANDIDATES An Independence From Europe Christopher Booth Kerrie Oxenham Malcolm Snelling John Martin Paul Sootheran Howard Blake British National Party Marlene Guest Adam Walker Daniel Cook Joanne Brown Steven Harrison Stuart Henshaw Conservative Timothy Kirkhope Alex Story John Procter Carolyn Abbott Michael Naughton Ryan Stephenson English Democrats Chris Beverley David Wildgoose Ian Sutton Colin Porter Tom Redmond David Allen Green Party Andrew Cooper Shan Oakes Vicky Dunn Denise Craghill Martin Hemingway Kevin Warnes Labour Party Linda McAvan Richard Corbett Eleanor Tunnicliffe Asghar Khan Helen Mirfin-Boukouris Darren Hughes Liberal Democrats Edward McMillan-Scott James Monaghan Joe Otten Chris Foote-Wood Jacqueline Bell Aqila Choudhry NO2EU Trevor Howard Mary Jackson Carrie Hedderwick Adrian O’Malley Steven Andrew Iain Dalton UKIP Jane Collins Amjad Bashir Mike Hookem Gary Shores Jason Smith Anne Murgatroyd Yorkshire First Stewart Arnold Richard Carter Richard Honnoraty

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