Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

A quick guide to the British voting system for the EU elections

The really short version? It’s utterly rubbish. But this is how it works, courtesy of a short film by the Green Party:

Note: This is not an endorsement of the Green Party. But their logic for preventing BNP leader Nick Griffin from getting a seat does have its merits. I’d prefer it if you researched the parties and their candidates and cast your vote based on who tallies most with your views, but if you must protest vote, with a likely low turnout at the upcoming elections we’re in a situation where votes for the Greens and UKIP are more likely to be the clinchers that will help prevent the fascists from getting a seat than ones for the Tories, Labour or the Lib Dems. (Yes, I think UKIP are more or less a joke party with ill-thought-out policies and some unpleasant undertones to much of their rhetoric, but at least they aren’t Nazis.)


  1. SHHHHHHH don’t tell anybody that the EU elections are a complete and utter sham of Democracy as ‘MEP’s have absolutely no say whatsoever and cannot block or amend any legislation which the unelected, unaccountable EU commissioners wish to impose!.

    SHHHH its a secret!!!.

    The Myth of EU Democracy.

  2. John,

    Your big secret is safe. They have not even written it into the treaties, so it resides safely between your ears.

  3. John, I’m as annoyed at the relative lack of power of MEPs as the next man, but they can’t amend or even block legislation? Those are the only things they CAN do.

    And the “unaccountable EU Commissioners” can ride roughshod over the European Parliament, can they? You might like to tell that to the Santer Commission…

  4. Voting Green certainly won’t HELP the BNP but their reasoning is flawed as it assumes that the Green Party doesn’t take a single vote away from the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems or UKIP. As soon as they do, the mathematics changes and their argument goes.

    Trying to second guess how the vote is going to go in a D’Hondt election is only liable to lead to brain damage.

  5. Nosemonkey – Morus from politicalbetting (here) had a go at this, and suggested that a Green vote is less likely to keep the BNP out than a Lab, LD, or UKIP vote…

  6. @James Graham
    No, even if most of the votes for the greens (beyond those of their own voter base) come from the three largest parties, the d’Hondt voting system does make it more likely that the BNP will lose out in round 8.

    d’Hondt favours larger parties, i.e. they usually end up with a number of seats somewhat higher than their true share, this is especially true for small constituencies. This disadvantage for smaller partes decreases with every seat to be allocated. Basing on previous voter shares and the recent opinion polls, a neck and neck race between the greens and the BNP is indeed the most likely outcome for round 8. Half a percent more for the greens has a far greater influence on round eight than, say, half a percent less for labour, because labour as a (still fairly) large party will have had its votes divided several times (the film illustrates this correctly – and I find, in a very neat way).

    The greens do stand a fair chance of beating the BNP. They had 5.6% last time, and Respect, who are supporting the Greens this time got 1.2%. Combined, they got slightly more than the BNP’s 6.4%.

    So voting green does make sense. There’s hardly a chance that the swing will be anywhere as big that they could grab more than the final eighth seat. So if keeping the BNP out (or greening the UK) is a major concern for you, then voting green is the best choice indeed. But of course if, say, you’re a LibDem voter hoping they might overtake Labour, then you’ll probably be giving your vote to your own party.

  7. As James says, it assumes that vote doesn’t come from one of the larger parties. It also assumes that the part closest to getting the last seat in a region isn’t one of the big parties. If it is, a vote for them helps keep the BNP out more than a vote for a smaller party. But the electoral maths will vary from region to region. In London, for example, the Lib Dems and the Greens both currently have one MEP; the Lib Dems stand a better chance of getting a second than the Greens do.

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