How do the European election voting systems work?

A polling card for the European elections to be held on Thursday May 23, 2019

Voters across the UK will go to the polls on May 23 to elect Members of the European Parliament.

How does the voting system work in England, Scotland and Wales?

Unlike the first-past-the-post system used in general elections, the European contests use the D’Hondt system, a form of proportional representation.

Voters choose a single party and the number of elected candidates from each party’s list depends upon the proportion of votes cast.

In the first round of counting the party with the most votes wins a seat for the candidate at the top of its list.

In the next round, that party’s vote is divided by two, if it is still top it gains another seat, if not then whichever rival now has the most gets a seat.

At each subsequent round, the process repeats itself, with the original vote of the winning party in each round being divided by one plus their running total of MEPs, until all the seats for the region have been allocated.

How many MEPs will be elected?

A total of 73 MEPs represent the UK. England is split into nine regions: South East England has 10 MEPs, London and North West England each have eight, East of England and the West Midlands each have seven, Yorkshire and the Humber and South West England have six each, the East Midlands has five and North East England has three.

Scotland has six MEPs, Wales four and Northern Ireland three.

How does the voting system work in Northern Ireland?

The three MEPs are elected using the single transferable vote system. Voters rank their candidates in order of preference.

Each candidate needs a minimum number of votes to be elected – a quota calculated based on the number of available seats and votes cast.

The first preference votes for each candidate are added up and any candidate who has achieved this quota is elected.

If a candidate has more votes than are needed to fill the quota, that candidate’s surplus votes are transferred to the remaining candidates.

Votes that would have gone to the winner instead go to the second preference listed on those ballot papers.

If candidates do not meet the quota, the candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated and the second preference votes are transferred to other candidates.

These processes are repeated until all the seats are filled.