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The voting system

The electoral system used for the elections to the European Parliament in England, Scotland and Wales is a Regional List system of Proportional Representation which allocates seats in the European Parliament in approximate proportion to the number of votes cast for political parties and independent candidates within each region.

The system will be used in the election of eight MEPs for the North West, and 72 across the UK.

Each political party nominates their candidates and indicated the order in which they wanted them to be elected. In the North West, parties are able to nominate up to eight candidates. Independent candidates (by definition) have only one candidate on their "list". Electors vote for a party list or the one independent candidate.

On 22 May, the ballot papers received by the 39 local Returning Officers across the North West will be counted in local count centres and the number of votes cast for each party/candidate will be collated in Manchester by the Regional Returning Officer for the North West.

Once the vote count is complete and confirmed:

  • The party with the highest number of votes is allocated the first seat. The candidate at the top of the party's list is elected. 
  • The votes of the party winning the first seat are then divided by the number of seats they have won + 1 ( i.e. 2 ) and the resultant number of votes go forward to be compared with the number of votes for the other parties and candidates to decide who wins the next seat. 
  • The exercise is then repeated. As each successful party wins its first seat, its votes are divided by 2. This divisor is then increased by 1 each time this party wins a further seat. (NB it is the total number of votes cast for the party which is divided by the divisor, NOT the number resulting from the previous division.) 
  • In the event that an independent candidate is elected or all the candidates on a party's list have been elected, the votes cast for that party are excluded from the remainder of the exercise.