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  Elections and voting
General election
European elections
Local elections
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European Parliament
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EU flag European elections
Every five years the UK picks 78 members for the European Parliament.

The UK's representatives go and join 654 other MEPs from all across the EU. Together they form a 732-member parliament - which aims to provide a voice for the people of the EU.

The voting system is pretty complicated. Instead of voting for one candidate you vote for a political party. The party picks your MEP from a list it has drawn up. The more votes your party gets the more MEPs it can pick from its list.

Who can vote?

EU citizens over 18 who are registered to vote can take part in these elections. What actually happens is that not many people bother to vote in the UK. This is called low turnout and it's also a problem in some other EU countries.

Why don't people vote?

There are lots of explanations. Some people say that the voting system is too complicated. Other experts think that the public don't know what the Parliament does. Arguments about the EU often make the news in the UK but opinion polls show that ordinary people see Europe as a less important issue than things like hospitals, schools and transport.

Voting system in more detail

  • The UK is divided into 12 regions
  • Each region is given between three and 10 MEP seats
  • The more people that live in a region - the more seats it gets
  • For each of the regions the political parties submit a list of the candidates they think should be MEPs.
  • Voters mark their ballot paper to show which party they want to win.
  • The votes are counted and the region's seats are shared out between the parties - the more votes you got the more seats you get.
  • Northern Ireland uses a different voting system.

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   back next   
Teachers:
Look at our citizenship stuff
Try our online MPs quiz
What is the European Union?
Press Packs:
Kids write about citizenship
Guide to the UK Parliament
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