Everything you need to know about the 2019 European elections
- Why they're happening
- Who you can vote for
- What it will mean in the long-term
Just three weeks after Britain was gripped by, not local election fever, but a slightly raised temperature, the country will head back to the polls once more.
But this time we will be electing members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Why this election is happening
This election had been scheduled to take place five years after the last one and was due to take part in the other 27 EU countries but not initially expected in the UK.
As we were due to leave the EU on March 29, we should not have been taking part, but as parliament could not pass a withdrawal agreement on time, we are still in the union and therefore must take part in its elections.
Which has made a bizarre campaign as none of our MEPs are expected to keep their jobs for long, but your vote may be of vital importance to how the Brexit process unfolds as well as how policy is implemented in the future.
Due to its proximity, some EU legislation will affect the UK even after Brexit, especially those that will be necessary for trade with the union.
In Manchester we are part of the North West European parliamentary constituency which will elect eight MEPs on a proportional basis depending on the percentage each party gets. The parties have listed up to eight candidates each, so one party could sweep it with all eight, we could have eight different parties, or most likely the bigger parties will get a few MEPs each.
Who you can vote for
You have the choice of 11 options for your ballot.
As well as independents, there are nine options. Four are leave-favouring, four are remain-favouring and Labour’s intentions are not yet clear.
Though there are some Conservatives who would like to remain in Europe, the party as a whole is in favour of implementing the 2016 referendum. Their ideologies are quite broad but mostly revolve around free-market capitalism.
UKIP, the Brexit Party and the English Democrats are all more-or-less single issue parties in campaigning to ensure Brexit is carried out.
The Brexit Party have infamously not released a manifesto, but the English Democrats are more along the lines of nationalist devolution, albeit in a right-wing eurosceptic manner.
On the remain side are the Greens, Liberal Democrats, Change UK and UK EU Party. Change and the UK EU Party, are similarly currently single-issue parties advocating a second referendum or a straight revocation of Brexit.
The Lib Dems have styled themselves as the party of remain as well, but also stand for electoral reform, social liberalism (ie the expansion of civil rights) and economic liberalism; a free market economy.
The Greens, as their name suggests, are an environmentalist party who push for more socialist and socially libertarian policies.
Labour party members are quite split on the Brexit issue, with some wanting to implement the result of the referendum and some wanting to have a second referendum. Labour’s ideology is socialism which is easier to implement outside the EU, but paradoxically is saved by the EU from being destroyed by a capitalist government. Labour’s problem here is that although Brexit will enable them to enact some of their policies, it will at the same time disproportionately affect poorer communities who rely on EU or european business investment, which the party doesn’t want to lose.
Who should you vote for?
Parties in the EU parliament form alliances with each other. Labour tends to ally with socialist and social democratic parties. The Greens with green coalitions, Lib Dems with centrist parties and the Conservatives with conservative groups. Nationalist parties tend not to form groups in this parliament.
There are EU rules as to what officially constitutes a group, so Britain’s departure could tip the balance of what happens, therefore now might be the only chance for your ideology to be put forward.
Interestingly, the parties that want Brexit are not proposing to do a great deal in the parliament itself, they want to send a message to Westminster that they want to leave it and while the Conservatives have more policies than just Brexit, they are not expecting to be in the parliament long enough to do very much.
Change UK, the UK EU Party and the Lib Dems have also been light on what they intend to do if they manage to achieve their goal of keeping Britain in the EU. The Lib Dems can at least look back on their social libertarian ideology and would be part of the wider Liberal grouping in parliament, but the other two parties are yet to make an indication of what their MEPs will fight for in parliament.
The Greens are expecting a surge with climate change being a hot topic (pun intended) right now. Labour are paradoxically both talking about what their MEPs will do in parliament as well as leaving the EU as soon as possible, so the question remains what exactly you would get out of voting for them.
These elections are odd because of the political situation in Britain and may be rather pointless. If you’re passionately keen on leaving or remaining, you will probably already have a party in mind and if you care about the environment, then you can be assured at least the greens will fight for that in the EU.
The other 27 countries will also elect a number of MEPs; Germany the most with 96; Cyprus, Estonia, Malta and Luxembourg the least with six each, and it may be more interesting to see what the parliament will look like without the British MEPs involved. You may well get a chance to do so here as we work with our sister-university in Utrecht, the Netherlands on these elections.
The results will be announced on Sunday after all the countries have voted and had their votes counted.