How does Proportional Representation work in the EU elections?

19 May 2019

The EU elections use Proportional Representation to work out how many Members of the European Parliament each party will get.  Basically, this means that the parties which get more votes get more MEPs.  So voting for the Green Party makes even more sense in the EU elections.

The BBC website has a very good entry about PR and the d'Hondt method of counting which the UK uses for EU elections.  You may need to read it slowly to see how each stage of counting helps to produce the final, much fairer result.

PR is a much fairer way of counting votes than First Past The Post (FPTP) which the UK uses for General and Local Elections.  No other country in Europe uses FPTP and only a handful world-wide because it is so clearly unfair to millions of voters.  

FPTP should really be called "one more than any other candidate" or "winner takes all" - there is no fixed "post" or fixed number of votes or fixed percentage of votes which a candidate needs to be elected.

Members of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are elected using forms of PR and so the number of MSPs and MWAs more closely matches the number of votes cast for each party.  

FPTP meant that in the 2017 General Election, the Conservatives increased their share of the national vote from 37% to 42% and yet they got fewer MPs!  Bizarre or what?!

The reason was that where a Conservative MP was elected, he or she got even more votes than in 2015, but those votes could not be used to elect another MP from the constituency.  Under some forms of PR the "excess" votes could have helped to elect another MP from a regional list!  Some people call these "wasted" votes because they don't change the overall outcome.

Check out Wikipedia for more information on voting systems, PR and FPTP.

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