How do the European Parliament elections work?

Great Britain uses a list system and divides the country into 12 electoral regions, with voters casting a single vote for their preferred party. Northern Ireland uses the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system for its three MEPs, where voters can choose their second and third preferences. Political parties produce lists of candidates for each region and rank the candidates.

The ‘closed list system’ used in the UK means that voters simply cast one vote for the party that they wish to support, and the parties decide in what order their candidates are listed. As parties win seats, those at the top of the lists gain them first. The party with the most votes wins the first seat available. Once a party has been given a seat, its votes are divided by the number of seats it has plus one and whoever has the most votes after that gets the next seat, in a system known as the d’Hondt method of proportional representation.

Essential information about European elections – read our 11 things you need to know page here.

For more information please read our European elections and Brexit report.


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