By Guy Faulconbridge and Kylie MacLellan
LONDON (Reuters) – Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is on course to win Thursday’s European parliamentary election in the United Kingdom while pro-European Union parties remain divided.
How will the election work, when will we get results and what were the results last time?
Polling stations open at 0600 GMT on Thursday and close at 2100 GMT.
Around 46.8 million people in the United Kingdom.
Any adult who is a British citizen, an Irish, EU or qualifying Commonwealth citizen can register to vote in the election. British citizens living overseas who are registered as overseas electors within the last 15 years can also take part.
WHAT DO VOTERSNEED TO DO?
In Britain, voters put one cross against the party or independent candidate they wish to vote for. Parties are listed first on the ballot paper, alphabetically, followed by individual candidates who are standing as independents.
In Northern Ireland, the single transferable vote (STV) system is used so voters mark 1, 2, 3 and so on against candidates in order of preference.
The United Kingdom is divided into 12 electoral regions – nine in England, and one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In total it will elect 73 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament).
WHATSYSTEM IS USED?
In Britain, parties submit a list of candidates for each region and voters select a party rather than an individual candidate, unless they are backing an independent.
As the seats are allocated to a party, they in turn allocate them to candidates starting from the top of their list.
In Northern Ireland, as votes are counted the candidate with the least votes in eliminated and their votes redistributed. This is repeated until there are only the required number of candidates left for the number of seats available.
ISN’T THE UK LEAVINGTHE EU?
Britain is taking part in the elections because it delayed the date of its exit from the EU, but its MEPs will leave the parliament when Brexit happens.
No results are allowed to be published before 2100 GMT on Sunday – when polls close across other parts of the EU.
Counting will begin in England and Wales before 2100 and results will come soon after that time.
Counting in some parts of Scotland will begin after 2100 but the Western Isles of Scotland do not count on Sundays so the result will not be declared until Monday.
Counting in Northern Ireland will start on Monday 27 May and is expected to take 1-2 days.
IS THERE AN EXITPOLL?
Farage’s Brexit Party has maintained a big lead over both the Conservatives and Labour in polls on voting intentions.
On the “remain” side however, the vote will be splintered between several strongly pro-EU parties: the Liberal Democrats, Change UK and the Green Party.
- Nigel Farage, Brexit Party, South East
- Daniel Hannan, Conservative (ECR), South East
- Syed Kamall, Conservative (ECR), London
- Gerard Batten, UKIP (ENF), London
- Rachel Johnson, Change UK (N/A), South West
- Ann Widdecombe, Brexit Party (N/A), South West
- Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Brexit Party (N/A), East Midlands
- Richard Tice, Brexit Party (N/A), East England
- Tommy Robinson, North West
WHATWERETHERESULTS IN 2014?
Turnout: 35.6 percent
MEPs % of
UK Independence Party 24 26.77
Labour 20 24.74
Conservative 19 23.31
Green 3 7.67
Scottish National Party 2 2.4
Liberal Democrat 1 6.69
Sinn Féin 1 0.66
Democratic Unionist Party 1 0.54
Plaid Cymru 1 0.69
Ulster Unionist Party 1 0.35
Sources: UK Electoral Commission, European Parliament
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Andrew Heavens)