European elections

There’s an EU election coming up (4 June in the UK). I haven’t done many of these since I haven’t been a European citizen for too long so I’m trying to do my homework. I know a lot of Brits that whinge an awful lot about the EU; I also know very few that seem to know much about it.

The BBC website on the election says that it’s the biggest trans-national vote in history. It also says – and this is clear to anyone who watches the news – that many new national laws are made in response to European directives. It’s pretty important to take this vote seriously.

The part of the process which I’ve found most peculiar is how the parties work. From the BBC page:

Do MEPs represent their national party or a European party?

MEPs often represent both a national party (such as the German Christian Democratic Union or the French Socialist Party, say) and a European party (such as the European People’s Party or the Party of European Socialists).

Some MEPs (such as British Conservatives) only belong to a national party – but even then, they are nearly always a member of one of the European Parliament’s parliamentary groups. Groups vote as a united bloc when they can, and have whips whose job is to promote group discipline.

However, it is usually the national party which decides whether an MEP is selected to run again in the next election.

Also different, though less confusing, is that – in the UK at least – you and your region have a number of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) as your representatives, not just one. Currently London has nine. (If you read my other blog you might recall that I contacted my MEPs in February on issues around music copyright.) From the next election, we’ll have eight. And the candidates for those eight positions belong to some interesting parties:

I bet the Yes2Europe people are all, like, “In your face, No2EU!” This isn’t the first time I’ve been amused by some of the political parties in Britain.

If you’re in the UK you can found out who’s standing for election right here.


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