Guide to voting in the European Elections on 23 May 2019 

The voting system used to elect British MEPs makes all votes count.

They count equally in your region or nation.  

Wherever you live your vote for Labour will be counted towards your Labour regional or national total and that total will determine the allocation of MEPs in your region/nation to Labour.  

It will reduce the chances of other parties’ candidates. 


So turnout is key.  

  • No need for tactical voting.  

  • No excuse for abstention.  

  • No repeating the pattern of voting in your first past the post constituency.  Whether Labour does not have a single councillor in your patch or you have your own Labour MP, your vote counts equally.

There was a debate when this system was introduced as to whether the party lists should be open, partially open or completely closed.  We are where we are with fixed lists, where parties decide the candidates and their order on the list.


 This means that if a party is allocated one MEP, that position goes to the person first placed on that list.  If two MEPs are allocated, the first and second-placed become MEPs.  The more votes a party receives, the more MEPs they gain.  


Different numbers of MEPs are allocated to each region and nation, according to their population, which means the threshold for winning an MP is higher in the North West (3 MEPs) than the South East (10 MEPs).  In the ten regions and nations the d’Hondt system, below, is used.  Northern Ireland uses a Single Transferable Vote system, as in their local elections. 


What is the D'Hondt system? 


The method for allocating MEPs to parties is called the D'Hondt system.  


The aim of the D’Hondt system is to equalise, as far as possible, the ratio of votes to seats for each party. It does this by awarding the first seat to the party with most votes, and then each subsequent seat is awarded to the party with the highest votes-to-seats ratio at that stage in the count. To avoid needing to divide the votes of parties without any seats by zero, ratios are calculated by dividing by the number of seats already allocated to the parties plus one.


In practice, with the totals received by each party known, the top party is allocated an MEP. 

The top party's total vote is divided by 2, (one plus the number of seats that party has already been allocated, one plus one).

Usually the next highest party is different and they are allocated an MEP. 

The second party's total vote is divided by 2, in the same way.  

This goes on until the first party is allocated a second MEP. 

That party's original vote is divided by 3, in the same way.  

This process continues until the total number of MEPs have been allocated in your region/nation.  


The number of MEPs to be elected in each region and nation are as follows: 

South East (10), London (8), North West (8), East of England (7), West Midlands (7), Scotland (6), South West and Gibraltar (6), Yorkshire and the Humber (6), East Midlands (5), Wales (4), North East (3) and Northern Ireland (3).  


John Doolan