Cliff Mitchell - 14/04/2019

European Elections 2019 - everything you need to know

The d'Hondt Method Explained

The 2019 elections for the European Parliament (EP) will be held in the UK on Thursday 23 May 2019.

Candidate nominations must be submitted by 24 April and voter registrations must be completed by 7 May 2019. If you are not yet registered please register NOW - – your vote has never been more important!

Elections for the EP are not like UK parliamentary elections – they do NOT use a first-past-the-post system and this makes it easier for smaller political parties to have candidates elected. UKIP used this to their advantage in the last EP elections in 2014 to win more seats than both Labour and the Conservatives. We can use this to our advantage in 2019 to make sure only pro-Remain, pro-EU candidates are elected and to block UKIP , The Brexit Party and other Brexiteers.

There are 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) representing more than 512 million people in 28 member states (including the UK). The UK will be electing 73 MEPs using a system of proportional representation called the d’Hondt method, or Jefferson method (after Thomas Jefferson who introduced the method for proportional allocation of seats in the United States House of Representatives in 1791).

EU elections are held every 5 years. The UK is divided into 12 electoral regions, each region has between 3 and 10 MEPs and each MEP in a region represents every person living there. You can find out more about democracy in the EU here.

In the last European election in 2014 UKIP came out top with 24 MEPS, Labour second with 20 seats, Conservatives third with 19 seats, Greens 3, SNP 2, Lib Dems 1, others 4.

Staffordshire is in the West Midlands Region for EU elections and the Region is allocated 7 MEPs. You can see details of our 7 MEPs here.

How does this work

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. For the West Midlands this means each party can put forward a maximum of 7 candidates in rank order.

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

Once the polls have closed, the process followed is shown in the graphic at the top right and explained below by way of a detailed example.

Here’s an 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

Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland the system is different and uses a Single Transferable Vote.

The ballot paper lists the name of each candidate and their party name. You 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.

Make your vote count

  1. Remember, this is not a first-past-the-post system but uses proportional representation so smaller parties have a much better chance of getting candidates elected. The first priority is to make sure you are registered to vote - you only have until 7 May so don't put it off, register NOW.
  2. Only vote for pro-EU parties or independents that clearly support remaining in the EU: Remain and Reform! We'll say more about this once all the parties have declared their candidate lists for the West Midlands.
  3. Vote! This may seem obvious but turnout is traditionally very low in European elections and this time is likely to be decisive. Brexit supporting voters may well be totally disillusioned with the way Brexit has been handled and may not be motivated get out and vote. We must make sure ALL Remain supporting voters actually turnout and vote - that alone could be the deciding factor so please, VOTE.


Cliff Mitchell, Staffs4Europe Steering Group
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