European elections in the UK and France

European elections in the UK and France

European elections will take place later this month on 23-26 May and, following the delay of the Brexit deadline, the UK is now set to participate

European elections take place every five years and see EU countries vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

With the deadline for the UK’s exit from the EU having previously been set as the 29 March 2019, it seemed that the UK would not be involved in these elections. However, since the UK and the EU agreed to delay the deadline to 31 October 2019 (with the option to leave earlier if a deal is made) the UK is now due to elect its own MEPs who will participate in the EU parliament until such a time as the UK does leave. The UK elections are due to take place on 23 May.

In the European parliament, each country is allocated a set number of seats, roughly depending on the size of its population. At the moment there are 751 MEPs in total, the UK currently has 73 MEPs, and France has 74.

MEPs represent the interests of their regions in Europe. They contribute to EU lawmaking and split their time between work for their constituents and attending committees and debates in their political groups in their home country, as well as debates and votes in the European parliament.

UK citizens, whether they reside in the UK or France, are eligible to vote in the UK providing they are registered correctly on the electoral roll. Deadline for registration to vote in person in the UK is 7 May. Those in France on election day, or those for any other reason wishing to vote by post or by proxy in the UK, will need to have registered to do so in advance. Some France residing UK nationals would also have the option to travel to the UK to vote from their former UK address.

In France, the European elections take place on Sunday 26 May. The deadline for registering in France has already passed but those UK citizens living in France who have registered themselves on the listes électorales complémentaires can vote in France if they do not vote in the UK (you cannot vote twice). This ability to vote in France would change following the UK’s exit from the European Union. Anyone who has newly gained French nationality in 2019 would have been automatically registered on the electoral lists in France.

On election day, in both the UK and in France, voters will be asked to choose their preferred political party on the ballot paper. Each party will have put a list of MEP candidates forward – in the UK this list is divided into 11 regions but in France it is nationwide – and the number of votes for each party will determine how many of their candidates are elected (or re-elected) to the European Parliament.

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