EU elections 2019: How do European Parliament elections work? How to vote for your MEP


The UK was initially meant to leave the EU on March 29. That became April 12, and now a third delay until October 31 has been agreed. This means that unless Theresa May’s Brexit deal manages to win the majority in the House of Commons, chances are the UK will still be in the EU and need to take part in the May 23-26 MEP elections.

So how do these elections work?

The European Parliament is made up of representatives elected by the people of the EU, and they are responsible for making laws and approving budgets along with the Council of Ministers.

Each country is allocated a set number of seats, roughly depending on the size of its population.

The smallest, Malta (population: around half a million) has six members sitting in the European Parliament while the largest, Germany (population: 82 million) has 96.

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At the moment there are 751 MEPs in total and the UK has 73.

Every five years, EU voters go to the polls to elect members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

Candidates can either stand as representatives of one of the UK’s political parties, or independently.

Once elected, they represent different regions of the country, again according to population. The north-east of England and Northern Ireland have three MEPs each while the south-east of England, including London, has 18.

In the European Parliament the MEPs sit in one of eight political groups which include MEPs from across the EU who share the same political affiliation.

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MEPs are elected using a electoral system known as proportional representation – basically, this means that a party which gains a third of the votes wins a third of the seats.

How can you vote?

Voting in MEP elections is important, and the UK turnout is usually low.

The last time they were held in 2014, 36% of those eligible to vote did so, compared with 43% in the EU as a whole.

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That compares with 66% turnout at the following year’s general election.

The European elections website HERE shows how to vote by country (head to the dropdown in the middle of the page to select your country), but note no UK countries are currently on the list, as there has yet to be an official declaration of the UK’s intent to participate.

If the UK does stand in the elections, the website (and this article) will be updated accordingly.

Usually, if you are registered to vote, you will receive a polling card in the post which will have the address of the polling station where you should cast your vote and the date you must vote.



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