On May 23, you will if you choose be voting again – this time for European Members of Parliament – who may never take up their seats. And, if you have a postal vote, you will be voting even sooner. But how many of you will actually vote?
A week ago we were getting the results of the elections to Rother District Council (RDC), Rye Town Council, and a few contested parish seats. And the result was no single party ended up in overall control of the RDC. Conservative seats were lost and the main winners were Independents and Liberal Democrats (not Labour) – and the big issue in Bexhill was about getting a town council.
However the main winner was probably apathy. People could not be bothered to vote. Comparisons with the last election in 2015 are difficult sometimes because of ward boundary changes since then, but there is one clear pattern.
In those wards which had the largest proportion of voters voting in 2015, turnout this year was down by around a third. But in wards with the lowest turnouts in 2015, turnout this time was down by around a half. And turnout in European elections has often been low anyway because voting is regional – in our case, the South East region – and there is proportional representation.
So if you get half the total vote you get half of the 10 Euro-MPs representing the South East and each party has a list of candidates which they (not you) rank in order of preference. Therefore local issues and local personalities are much less important, and the emphasis is on each party – and its top level policies.
So, for example, the new Brexit Party’s South East list of 10 is headed by Nigel Farage and even if it got only 10% of the total vote, he could be heading back to the European Parliament – if we stay in Europe.
There are nine parties to choose from:
* Change UK – the Independent Group
* the Conservatives
* the Greens
* Liberal Democrats
* The Socialist Party of Great Britain
* The UK European Union Party (with only two candidates)
* and three Independent candidates (with no party affiliation)
The current government, and those parties currently with Members in the UK parliament, may decide on how to deliver Brexit – or not – taking account of how you vote or, maybe, taking account of whether you do not vote (though that seems less likely).
Exactly how each party will choose to define its position (and how the media then represents it) remains to be seen over the next 13 days, though all will want your support – and apathy on the part of the voters may not be helpful in clarifying the current situation. For basic information, visit Current elections on the Rother website. Details of the individual parties and candidates are here.
Image Credits: Rye News library, Heidi Foster.