The European Elections: everything you need to know

European Elections? But I thought we were leaving? Why do we need to elect MPs to the European Parliament if we are not going to be in it any more?!

Confused?

The European Elections are set to take place on May 23rd - this Thursday. For a country that has spent the last 2 years attempting to find a way out of the EU, this certainly seems a little counterproductive. However, with the delayed Brexit deal finally having approved in Brussels, it is necessary that we still have some elected members in the EU until we finally leave.

Unfortunately, many Brits, and that’s MPs and MEPs included, are of the opinion that these elections are really quite pointless. The UK fills 72 seats in the European Parliament, a figure determined by our population size in comparison with the other countries. Germany has the most seats with 99, and France, Italy and the UK all have 72, giving us considerable weight in decision making and the process of voting on laws. Therefore, even though British MEPs are not expected to sit in their seats for that long, it is still vital that we have a UK presence in the Brussels in regards to voting, especially as even when we leave the EU, we will probably still be subject to some of the EU laws.

The UK is also notoriously bad at turnout for the European Elections, with an average of around 35.5% of the nation actually voting. There is a fear that this year it will be even lower. A South West MEP spoke out to say that people should not overlook this vote, especially as Brexit was not yet a “done deal”. If it so transpired that the UK does not end up leaving the EU, we would certainly all be a little sour if we end if with an unbalanced and random selection of MEPs.

There are 23 parties in the UK running for seats, from the Green Party to the Women’s Equality Party to UKIP. In Scotland, Ireland and Wales it is undoubtably that their regional parties will win some of the seats. There is also a record number of new candidates standing as many have decided to stand down, perhaps due to the uncertainty of the length of their position. Of the 72 seats available, 43 are speaking re-election and there are 543 new candidates. It could therefore make for an exciting outcome, and is a great opportunity to shake up the political outlook of our European Parliament. Your democratic right to vote is not one that should ever be overlooked - people died for it and many don’t have it all in other countries. The EU elections are no exception. They should not be overlooked because of the threat of Brexit which will eternally (or so it feels) loom over our heads.

So, next week, see who is standing for a seat in your constituency and go out and vote.