Monday, 23 March 2015
Surely most would welcome this electoral reform
If Janice Atkinson, the figure at the centre of the latest UKIP scandal , had remained in the party and succeeded in her bid for a seat at Westminster, she would have had to resign as a member of the European Parliament under EU regulations. The Office of Member of the European Parliament is incompatible with that of member of a national parliament. What would then happen would be that the next person on the UKIP party list for the South East of England would take her place. There would be no reference to other runners-up in last year's EP elections. That person is the one whom UKIP ranked as next best to Ms Atkinson and may have been totally unknown to her constituents.
Similar situations have arisen in the Welsh parliament, where election is by a mixed system of constituency elections plus a top-up from party lists which ensures (almost) proportionality by party,
The EU insists that members of the EP are elected proportionately, but leaves the actual implementation to legislation in member states. There is no requirement for party lists or lists of any kind, though only Ireland and Malta use what many would regard as the best PR system, Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies. This is the system used in domestic elections in Ireland, north and south, and also in local government in Scotland. There are six other EU nations which use closed lists like ourselves. All the others allow voters to express some preference between candidates.
Westminster has competence to give voters more power in European Parliament elections. Many of us would like to see this via STV, but at least the voter should be able to rank their choices, even within a list, as in Denmark, to cite a polity which has attracted so many fans over here.
If you need to be able to distinguish d'Hondt from Sainte-Laguë/Schepers, there is more on electoral systems from those nice people in European Research in this pdf.