European elections

Four UK parties were wiped out at the European elections

…but one of them wasn’t the Liberal Democrats.

Northern Ireland declared its final set of results earlier today, meaning we now have a complete line-up of the UK’s newly-elected 73 MEPs:

UK MEPs elected
Prior to the election these MEPs were divided between 14 parties. Now they are split between 10.

For a while it looked like this number could have ended up even smaller. But Catherine Badger managed to stave off what some thought was inevitable and ensured the Lib Dems survive to live (or possibly die) another day.

Three of the four parties that were wiped out had been formed from splits among MEPs from the right and far-right.

An Independence from Europe and We Demand a Referendum had been set up after Mike Nattrass and Nikki Sinclaire respectively fell out with their erstwhile boss, Ukip leader Nigel Farage. In last week’s elections, both lost their seats to representatives of their former party.

The British Democratic Party had been established by Andrew Brons after he fell out with his erstwhile boss, BNP leader Nick Griffin. Brons also lost his seat last week.

The fourth and final party to disappear was the BNP itself. The 8% share of the vote Griffin won in 2009 in north-west England shrank to just 1.9%.

I had wondered whether Jill Evans of Plaid Cymru might not hang on in Wales, but she did. Wales and Northern Ireland were the only two regions where the result in 2014 was identical to that of 2009.

Despite these elections taking place using a system of proportional representation, the final distribution of seats was not quite on a parity with the distribution of votes.

Here’s that pie chart again, but now showing just British MEPs:

British MEPs elected in 2014And here’s the share of the vote:

MEPs vote share(No comparable figures for share of the vote in Northern Ireland are available, due to the different form of PR used in the region.)

Just over 5% of those who voted in last week’s elections are unrepresented in the new European parliament. That’s roughly one in every 500 voters.

Note also that the Greens were able to pick up three seats on 7.9% of the vote, but the Lib Dems only managed one on 6.8%. Plaid Cymru needed to amass only one tenth of the Lib Dems’ vote share to win the same number of seats.

I’d like to think that if there was a truly proportional voting system, someone would have invented it. But then again, I’m not sure such a thing is possible.


5 responses to ‘Four UK parties were wiped out at the European elections

  1. Perhaps a big ask, but would you be able to calculate the seat totals for if the whole UK was one EU constituency like Germany is, rather than individual regional constituencies? Might be interesting to see.

  2. An interesting question. Perhaps someone else has done this, but anyway…

    So, no party with less than 4.3 million divided by 73 seats is getting elected – so no seat for the Christian Peoples Alliance or anyone with fewer votes, and realistically probably not most of the Northern Irish parties.

    If you go with the approach in my comment on the “dos and d’hondts” post (working out how many votes you need to “buy” each seat) then 200,000 per seat leads you to allocate 72 seats. The Tories get one more seat at 199,389 (and here we stop). If you carry on, UKIP gets one more seat at 197820.

    So if my maths works, the range to allocate exactly 73 seats is quite narrow – 197,821 to 199,389. The SNP just misses out on a second seat, and BNP and all of the Irish parties miss out entirely.

    If you go with 199,000 or 198,000 votes per seat then you get the following:

    UKIP – 21
    Labour- 20
    Conservative – 19
    Green – 6
    Lib Dem – 5
    SNP – 1
    AIFE – 1

  3. Notable then that with one national constituency, the Greens would get three more seats, and the Lib Dems four more. UKIP would get three less, but Labour and the Conservatives exactly the same.

    Perhaps surprisingly, an Independence for Europe would get one seat (no doubt helped by being first on the ballot paper), but SNP would lose one. Sinn Fein, DUP, UUP and Plaid Cymru would be eliminated.

    UKIP and SNP would be within 10,000 votes of achieving one more seat, and BNP would need about 20,000 more votes for their first seat.

    So, one side effect of having several multi-member constituencies is that it ensure the Northern Irish parties are represented, but it also reduces the representation of national parties with diffuse support, and keeps out some of the more marginal national parties.

  4. Thanks for answering Richard’s question, Andrew.

    It’s fascinating to see who gains and who loses from treating the whole country as one region. On balance it feels like it would be a fairer way of allocating seats, though you’d still have to run a separate system in Northern Ireland – and maybe in Wales and Scotland, if we’re bending the rules to allow for regional parties.

    Perhaps we should just have four super-regions, corresponding with each of the nations of the UK, and adjust the system of PR for each accordingly.

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