What you need to know about voting in the crucial European elections

In a surprising development, the UK will now be taking part in European elections. Photo vepar5/Depositphotos
The UK on Tuesday confirmed that it will be taking part in the upcoming European elections, so here's what you need to know about voting and indeed which country to vote in.

Can I still vote in the UK even if I live abroad?

Yes, provided you have been out of the country for less than 15 years you are entitled to a vote.

The deadline to register as a new voter has already passed, as has the deadline to register for postal votes, but there is still (just about) enough time to register for a proxy vote.

If you are already on the electoral roll in England, Scotland or Wales (the deadline has already passed for Northern Ireland) you can register for a proxy vote and ask someone else to cast your vote for you. Your proxy needs to live in the constituency you were last registered to vote in, but there are no restrictions on who that person can be (family member, friend, neighbour, former colleague, it's up to you).

 

The deadline for registering for a proxy vote is 5pm UK time on Wednesday, May 15 and you can register here.

Where do I vote, in the UK as a UK citizen or in the country where I live?

Basically it's your choice. EU nationals living in another country can choose whether to cast their vote in their original homeland or – if they are already on the electoral roll there – their adopted home. 

What you cannot do is vote twice. In the words of Bucks Fizz, it's time for making your mind up.

READ ALSO Who can I vote for in France and what are the big issues?

OPINION: The déja vu of the European election polls masks a dangerous game in French democracy 


Polling day varies from country to country

When are the European elections?

The elections take place between Thursday May 23rd and Sunday May 26th, depending on what country you are in.

For example in the Netherlands and the UK, voting will take place on May 23rd while in France polls will open on Sunday 26th.The results won't be announced until polls close in the last countries to vote.

These European elections were not supposed to involve the UK given that they were due to leave the EU on March 29th and then again on April 12th.

The country has been given an extension until October 31st, but if it had got a deal sorted before then, there was still the possibility that it would not be involved in the elections.

However Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington told the BBC on Tuesday: “Given how little time there is, it is regrettably not going to be possible to finish that process before the date that's legally due for the European Parliamentary elections.

“We very much hoped that we would be able to get our exit sorted… so that those elections did not have to take place, but legally they do have to take place unless our withdrawal has been given legal effect.”

Why would I want to vote in the UK?

Do you want to register your anger against Brexit? Then read on.

Generally, European elections in the UK have had an extremely low turnout – just 35 percent of people voted in the 2014 European elections – but this time it could be different. Europe is the issue that has convulsed the entire country for the past three years, polarising opinion among voters.

This is likely to lead to a higher turnout, and polls have also indicated that voters could use the European elections to punish the Conservative party for the ongoing Brexit mess. Some polls are even predicting that the Conservative party could come in sixth place.

Paradoxically, the anti-Europe party UKIP has previously done well at European elections and the party returned 24 MEPs to the European parliament in 2014. This time former UKIP leader and current MEP Nigel Farage has created a new 'Brexit' party, which is polling high, while UKIP is predicted to take eight percent of the vote.

On the other hand the pro-Remain party Change UK – recently formed from disaffected Tory and Labour MPs and lead by Heidi Allen – the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru are all standing on anti-Brexit platforms.

While voters still seem a long way from being given the chance to vote in a second referendum, the European Elections are increasingly being seen as a way voters can at least punish those individuals and parties who backed Brexit and show their desire to remain part of Europe.

 

 

 

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