EVERY FIVE YEARS we citizens of European Union countries get the chance to vote people into the European Parliament.
Sadly, few Londoners know who their member (MEP) is, let alone how to vote in the election, which is on Thursday 23 May 2019. Loving Dalston is here to help.
London has eight MEPs and three of them are quitting, at least one for the common yet mysterious “personal reasons”. The eight elected this time may serve for only a few months. Because of Brexit, the UK is leaving the EU by the end of this October 2019 — at least, that is what Britain’s Conservative government intends.
Confused? Prime Minister Theresa May and her squabbling Parliament have certainly done their best to ensure that we are. But why not use your vote to support the party of your choice, or skim the website of some you might like to discover their policies and vote for one of them?
You need to be on the electoral register, the same one that allows you to vote in UK elections and referendums. If you are on it — and voter cards may have been sent to your home — go this Thursday to your local polling station. When you type in your home postcode, the Hackney council poll-station site efficiently tells you where you can vote (probably at a school premises).
In the Euro election, you will have one vote to elect all of your MEPs.
Eh? Well, every party presents a list of candidates known as a “regional list” and you vote for one of these lists. Or you can vote for an individual candidate standing as an independent.
The number of MEPs elected from every party to represent a region depends on the overall share of votes that the parties receive. Briefly, you vote for a party or grouping of parties and votes are distributed proportionally.
Loving Dalston contends that to protest against, uhm, something, by defacing your voting slip is pointless. Voting is not compulsory so perhaps abstaining would be the best option for anti-EU voters. Voting to keep out a candidate or party would be another protest option.
Of course, there are positive reasons to vote, as a look at what the Euro parliament does might show.
MEPs say they spend some of their time in their regional constituencies in the UK – we’ll have to take their word for that because we rarely see them – and some of their time politicking in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, or in Strasbourg, France, where they go for a week every month to debate new European laws with other MEPs.
The tiresome monthly trek to a small city near Germany derives from a historical insistence by the French. Allez France, eh?
MEPs are paid about £7,600 a month before tax and insurance which, with expenses, brings their incomes to around £100,000 a year.
What do Euro MPs do, apart from representing voters from 28 member countries in a talking shop? This is what the EU parliament says on its site:
“It has powers in a range of areas that affect member countries: animal rights, consumer rights, the environment, international trade, regional economic development, workers’ rights. It has the power to approve, amend or reject new European laws. It also approves the EU budget and new members of the European Commission [the administration].”
The site does not say it has the power to initiate legislation. That is because it does not.
Hamish Scott 210519
* Some of the sites linked in this article have irritating oddities. They have been chosen in the absence of anything better. Advice is available at Hackney council (020 8356 3232) town hall, pictured above, and at your polling booth.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.