European elections 2019: Can you vote tactically in the European elections? How?

Posted on May 15 2019 - 8:55am by admin

Citizens across the EU, including the UK, will head to the polls between May 23 and 26. The UK will elect representatives to sit in 73 of the 751 seats in the European Parliament. The deadline to register to vote has passed, but you can find out everything you need to know about the election, as well as who your candidates are, HERE.

What about tactical voting?

Tactical voting is a method where the voter supports a party which might not be their first choice in order to prevent an undesirable outcome.

So for example, if you didn’t really want to vote Labour in the last general election, but desperately wanted to oust the Tories, you’d vote Labour as they had the most realistic chance of beating the Conservatives.

But general elections and these European elections are different, and it changes the terms of voting tactically.

In the UK, the EU election is run on a system called the D’Hondt method, a form of proportional representation.

This method sees the UK split into 12 large regions and seats are assigned to parties within the regions as a proportion of the total vote – there are multiple seats available per region.

In a general election, the first-past-the-post system is used, with a ‘winner takes all’ result.

So if general elections are to choose one seat per region (constituency), and EU elections are multiple per region, we can’t apply the same tactics to our vote.

This isn’t to say large parties aren’t favoured in the EU election voting method, but there is more room to think about who you want to vote for, including smaller parties.

Realistically, very small parties and independent candidates are unlikely to have a chance of getting a seat, so could be seen as ‘wasted’ votes.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote for them, but also keep in mind that medium-small parties – think of the size of the Green party – actually have a chance of getting a seat, even if it’s just one.

Different voting websites are offering different advice.

Remain United, a tactical voting website from Gina Miller and colleagues, is calling for Britons to vote for the Lib Dems, who enjoyed widespread success in the recent local elections in England.

They are hoping to repeat this success and push down the chances of a landslide favouring Nigel Farage’s increasingly popular Brexit Party.

On the campaign’s website, it says: “Voting for one remain party in your region should reduce the number of seats Brexit supporting parties win.”

But Becky Snowden, founder of the tactical voting site Tactical2017.com, is telling voters not to vote tactically at all – but to make sure they cast their vote, and encourage others to do the same.

Ms Snowden wrote in The Guardian: “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to persuade people to vote a certain way, and I will certainly be doing so again in the next general election.

“But for now I just want to advise as many people as possible to vote on 23 May – whoever it’s for.”

In an LSE blog on the issue of tactical voting, politics lecturer Heinz Brandenburg explains how competition in the UK is different according to what region you are voting in.

He said: “With decreasing district magnitude, electoral thresholds emerge – i.e. parties need to win an increasing share of votes in order to convert these into at least one seat.

“Competing in North East England (three seats), a party typically needs to win over 15 per cent of the votes to convert into one seat and over 30 per cent to win two seats.

“Whereas in South East England (10 seats), eight per cent tends to be easily enough to win a seat, 15 per cent sufficient to win two.”

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