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[19 MAY 99] EURO ELECTIONS 99 NEWS
New Voting System For Euro Elections

Coventry voters will be faced with a complex system when they come to register their preference for the European elections on 10 June.

The votes will count on a proportional representation basis across the region, and voters will opt for a party rather than an individual candidate, with the seats then being divided accordingly.

Each party will submit a list of eight candidates, to match the eight available MEP seats in the area and depending on how many seats they win they will work their way down the list.

This system came under heavy criticism from former Labour MEP Christine Oddy when it was first announced, and her anger was confounded when she discovered that Labour had placed her seventh on their list of eight candidates.

This move left Coventry and North Warwickshire MEP Oddy with no chance of re-election and was one of the contributing factors to her resignation from the party.

At that time Oddy blasted the party list system saying:

"I want to open up a totally undemocratic closed list, it is a protest against the shift of power from the voter to the political party elites."

The system means that voters will have no say over candidates who are elected to seats and can only choose a party, the list of individuals and their priority cannot be altered by the voting.

A spokesperson for Christine Oddy believes that public feeling of injustice over the system gives the MEP a real chance of grabbing one of the eight seats.

She said:

"A vote for Christine is a vote for Christine, so people supporting her know exactly who they are getting to represent them.

"Christine will be standing as MEP for Independent Labour and she had a large majority last time, so I think she has every chance of getting one of the seats."

Although the Labour Party took seven of the corresponding eight seats when the area was divided into constituencies last time, the new PR system means that a repeat of this is virtually impossible.

It would need Labour to secure a massive 80% share of the West Midlands votes to retain as many MEP’s as they currently have.

Labour Party Midlands spokesman Neil Skitt admits the party know they cannot secure that many votes.

He said:

"We are going for as many seats as possible but we have to be realistic and accept that the way the new system works means that keeping the same amount of seats that we have now will be difficult.

"People seem to think these changes are Labour Party enforced but they are actually part of a cross European system for proportional representational."
 

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CWN / Politics / Euro Elections 99 / 19 May 99

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