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EDITIONS
Voting in the UK Tuesday, 25 May, 1999, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
How the system works - GB
Voters throughout the United Kingdom go to the polls on Thursday, 10 June, to elect 87 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

The count, however, will not begin until 2100 BST on Sunday, 13 June, when voting finishes elsewhere in the European Union. Counting in Northern Ireland will not start until 14 June.

For the first time, the whole country will use proportional representation.

In England, Scotland and Wales this will be a closed list system. Northern Ireland will employ the Single Transferable Vote method which has been used there in European elections since 1979 and also in last year's assembly elections.

The whole of the UK will therefore be divided up into 12 electoral regions - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland form their own regions, while England is divided into nine. Each of these will elect a number of MEPs, varying between three and 11 depending on the size of the electorate.

The regions are made up of Westminster parliamentary constituencies, ranging between 18 in Northern Ireland and 83 in London.

Region MEPs
East Midlands  6
Eastern  8
London 10
North East  4
North West 10
Northern Ireland  3
Scotland  8
South East 11
South West  7
Wales  5
West Midlands  8
Yourkshire & Humber  7

In England, Scotland and Wales, parties have had to register and pay a deposit of 5,000 per region. Independents can also stand, but will have to pay the same sum. The deposit will be returned if the party or individual receives at least 2.5% of the valid votes in the region.

The parties have supplied a list of candidates ranked in order. Electors will cast their vote for the party or independent candidate of their choice.

The votes will physically be counted in Westminster parliamentary constituencies and announced on that basis, but the only number which matters is the total vote for each party/individual across the whole electoral region.

Allocating the seats

The seats are allocated according to a formula - known as the d'Hondt system - which takes into account the number of seats a party has already won in the region.

First, the votes are added and the party with the highest total wins the first seat in that region. The vote total for each party is now divided by the number of seats it has already won, plus one.

In other words, the party which gained the first seat has its vote total divided by two, while the others remain the same.

The new totals are compared and the party with the highest figure wins the second seat. The process is then repeated until all the seats in the region have been allocated.

The process sounds complicated, but can best be illustrated by using our click-through guide.

Links to more Voting in the UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Voting in the UK stories

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