The European elections will take place on Thursday 4th June with the British electorate voting for 72 MEPs to represent their electoral region in the European Parliament.
In total, 500 million Europeans will be eligible to cast their votes from June 4th – 7th voting in the 736 MEPs that will represent their regions in the European Parliament.
The UK is divided into 12 electoral regions - you can view a map of the regions here - with each region eligible to elect a number of representatives as indicated below:
East Midlands: 5
Eastern region: 7
North East: 3
North West: 8
South East: 10
South West: 6
West Midlands: 6
Yorkshire and the Humber: 6
Northern Ireland: 3
Among notable concerns in the European elections are:
(a) the low rate of electoral turnout, 24.02% in 1999 and 38.83% in 2004 across the UK, an improvement of near 15% although still below 50% of those eligible to vote. Not even half of those who can, vote.
(b) the opportunity the system of proportional representation and low voter turnout presents to the racist British National Party to capture seats in the European Parliament.
The BNP’s increased share of the vote from 1999 to 2004 by region is shown below:
The party leader, Nick Griffin, will be contesting a seat in the North West region on June 4th.
It is imperative that you register in time to be eligible to vote. The deadline for electoral registration is Tuesday 19th May. If you are not already on the electoral roll, you can find details of how to register here.
If you don’t vote, you run the risk of allowing others to determine policies and decisions that will, perhaps adversely, affect your life.
If you don’t use your vote, you won’t have a say.
Here are just some of the policy issues MEPs elected for the 2009 – 2014 term will deal with:
Economic and Monetary Affairs
The financial market crisis, which saw the banking system on the brink of collapse in autumn 2008, is now having an impact on the rest of the economy as the credit squeeze affects household spending and industrial investment. Improving Europe’s framework of financial regulation will be a major issue for the next European Parliament.
Foreign affairs challenges include replacing the expired Partnership and Co-operation Agreement with Russia, preventing the disruption of gas supplies from Russia via the Ukraine, removing non-tariff barriers to trade with China, seeking a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and monitoring progress towards association agreements with Latin America.
Climate change is a crucial challenge for mankind. Implementing the EU's legislation to combat it will be tough, but not enough. The EU must simultaneously pursue talks on a worldwide post-Kyoto climate regime, to be agreed in Copenhagen by the end of 2009.
The arrival each year of many immigrants in the EU, often in tragic circumstances, is forcing Member States to cooperate on the management of migratory movements. In this field, any policy applied by one country has an impact on its neighbour, especially in southern Europe. The creation of a balanced immigration policy should benefit both the north and the south of the continent.
In the years following attacks on New York, Madrid and London, the Member States improved their coordination in the fight against terrorism, partly through the "cooperation platforms" provided by Europol and Eurojust. New measures to prevent acts of terrorism will be examined by MEPs in the new Parliament. The balance between security and protection on the one hand and privacy and fundamental rights on the other will also be key issues.
Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, will not be the last to do so. Croatia, Turkey, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are also official candidates. Debates about whether they are ready to join, and possible dates for joining, will be high on Parliament's agenda in the coming years.
The Lisbon Treaty
If ratified by EU Member States, the Lisbon Treaty would create the legal framework and tools needed to meet Europe's most pressing challenges. By giving the directly-elected European Parliament more power over the EU’s decision making in areas like home affairs, agriculture and the budget, it would make the EU as a whole more democratically accountable.
Again, if you want to influence the decisions the EP will make on these and other issues, you need to ensure your preferred candidate is elected. You can only do this by supporting their campaign, voting on election day and encouraging others to vote.
You can view a list of prospective European election candidates under each of the party links below:
- Do you know who the prospective candidates for your region are?
- Have you met him/her and raised your questions and concerns over their party policies?
- Have you considered supporting their campaign to ensure they are successful on June 4th?
The election result tables here show the results by region in the 1999 and 2004 European elections. The greater success enjoyed by the BNP in 2004 compared to 1999 reflects the party’s efforts in getting the vote out.
Remember, every vote counts. Don’t miss the chance to cast your vote and have your say on June 4th.
If you don’t vote, others will be left to decide matters for you.
It’s your vote. Don’t discard it. Use it and make your voice heard.
You can find other useful information and a full list of European election candidates (from May 7th) on the UK office of the European Parliament website and the European Elections 2009 website.
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