We’re now just one week away from the elections that weren’t meant to happen. Next Thursday the 23rd of May, voters in Scotland and across the UK will go to the polls to elect members to the European Parliament to serve for… weeks? Months? Years? No one can say for sure right now. Previously considered the least important elections in the UK, the high drama of Brexit has turned this campaign into one of the most vicious and meaningful of my voting life – which, appropriately enough, started with the deeply bland (in Scotland anyway) 2009 European Elections.
Where does Scotland stand?
We’ve only had a couple of Scotland-only polls of European voting intention, and none this month which is when things really began to heat up. Based on previous results, recent trends, and what we’ve been seeing in GB-wide polling this is roughly the state of play;
- Likely Holds: Both SNP seats, one Labour seat
- Possible Losses: Conservative seat, one Labour seat
- Certain Loss: UKIP seat.
So there are likely three seats up for grabs. How might each party fare? (Listed by ballot paper order);
- Change UK: Highly unlikely to win a seat – have lost two lead candidates over the campaign.
- Conservatives: May struggle to hold their seat – GB-wide backdrop of cratering vote.
- Labour: Should hold one of their seats, but lose their second.
- Liberal Democrats: Good chance of winning a seat.
- Greens: Good chance of winning a seat.
- SNP: Highly likely to gain a third seat, fourth is possible.
- Brexit Party: Highly likely to win a seat.
- UKIP: Highly unlikely to hold their seat – MEP elected 2014 defected to Brexit.
- Independents: Guaranteed not to win a seat.
A more detailed analysis can be found in this post.
Who are the candidates?
There are a total of 50 candidates, with 48 of them spread across 8 parties and the remaining two separate independents. The full list for each party can be found in this post.
How do votes work in EU Elections?
Voting in the EU election is very simple – just put a cross next to the party you want to vote for. Do not cross or number multiple boxes.
The vote is technically purely proportional, but as Scotland only elects 6 MEPs there’s only so far proportionality can go. Seats are allocated using the D’Hondt formula, where at each stage of the count a party’s votes are divided by one more than the number of seats they’ve won so far. So whoever wins the first seat will have their vote divided by two for allocating the second seat, and if they win a second seat at any point, their vote will be divided by three for the next stage, and so on.
When will we know the results?
Although the UK votes on Thursday the 23rd of May, most other EU member states will vote on Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday. Counting will not begin until the polls have closed in every country, which means the various UK counts will not start until Sunday night. Unlike other elections, the verification stage which parties usually use to “sample” the vote and get an idea of how well they are doing will be done face-down, so it’s highly unlikely we’ll have an indication of results anywhere until votes are actually declared from each count.
In Scotland, my understanding is each council will report their figures individually, feeding them into a central count in Edinburgh. We should know the overall Scottish result by late Sunday or very early Monday. However, Na h-Eileanan Siar will not begin their count until Monday due to traditionally strong observance of the Sabbath. If the overall result without them is on a knife edge, we may have to wait until they report before we know.
Will Ballot Box Scotland be covering the results live?
Yes! I mean, hopefully. As you may notice in the candidates post I am myself standing in these elections. However, I’m at the bottom of my party’s list and therefore shouldn’t be in much demand, and able to dedicate time to coverage. As we hear the results from each council, I’ll add them to these graphics which will be sitting on the front page of the website. (Note: Just to show how the bottom one will look, it’s currently loaded with the data from the most recent Scotland-only poll.) I’ll also live-tweet results as I get them.
Finally, I’d like to offer my deepest thanks to Europe, the band, for doing the song The Final Countdown, which is such a happy coincidence in these times of uncertainty around Europe, the Union. Enjoy having it in your head now folks.