Why it’s important to pool Remain votes

The European Elections on 23 May are run under the D’Hondt system, named after a 19C Belgian lawyer. This article explains how D’Hondt works and why it is important to pool Remain votes.

The D’Hondt system allocates votes by splitting the winning parties’ votes, following allocation of the first MEP seat. Let’s take a hypothetical scenario for East Midlands (5 MEPs) based on the YouGov poll from 2 May:

Results when divided along party lines

  • Brexit Party: 30% - MEP elected
  • Labour: 21%
  • Conservative: 13%
  • Lib Dem: 10%
  • Change UK: 9%
  • Green: 9%
  • UKIP: 4%
  • SNP and Plaid Cymru: 4%

The Brexit Party would see their first choice MEP elected. The Brexit Party vote is then halved, from 30% to 15%, giving:

  • Labour: 21% - MEP elected
  • Brexit Party: 15%
  • Conservative: 13%
  • Lib Dem: 10%
  • Change UK: 9%
  • Green: 9%
  • UKIP: 4%
  • SNP and Plaid Cymru: 4%

Labour now tops the chart at 21% so Labour’s first choice MEP is elected. The Labour vote is then halved from 21% to 10.5%, giving:

  • Brexit Party: 15% - MEP elected
  • Conservative: 13%
  • Labour: 10.5%
  • Lib Dem: 10%
  • Change UK: 9%
  • Green: 9%
  • UKIP: 4%
  • SNP and Plaid Cymru: 4%

The Brexit Party would then get its second choice MEP elected. The Brexit Party’s original vote (30%) is now cut to one third so it stands at 10%, giving:

  • Conservative: 13% - MEP elected
  • Labour: 10.5%
  • Brexit Party: 10%
  • Lib Dem: 10%
  • Change UK: 9%
  • Green: 9%
  • UKIP: 4%
  • SNP and Plaid Cymru: 4%

The next MEP to be elected is the first choice of the Conservative Party (13%). The Conservative vote is then halved to 6.5%.

  • Labour: 10.5% - MEP elected
  • Brexit Party: 10%
  • Lib Dems: 10%
  • Change UK: 9%
  • Green: 9%
  • Conservative Party: 6.5%
  • UKIP: 4%
  • SNP and Plaid Cymru: 4%

The next MEP would be the second choice of the Labour Party with 10.5% of the vote - higher than both the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party who are both at 10%.

Outcome: 5 MEP seats = 2 Brexit, 1 Conservative, 2 Labour No Remain MEPs will represent you, despite Remain polling 32% of the vote.

That’s why it is important to pool Remain votes and support the party with the best chance of getting MEPs selected under the D’Hondt system, regardless of personal and/or political alliance.

Results when pooling votes

Now have a look at what happens if we had one Remain party or if Remainers vote for one party.

Remain: 32% - MEP elected (Made up of Lib Dem 10%; Change UK 9%; Green 9%; SNP/Plaid Cymru 4%) Brexit Party: 30% Labour: 21% Conservative: 13% UKIP: 4%

The Remain Party has 32% so the first MEP to be elected is a Remainer. The Remain vote is then halved to 16%, giving:

Brexit Party: 30% - MEP elected Labour: 21% Remain: 16% Conservative: 13% UKIP: 4%

The Brexit party has 30% so it gets the second MEP and the Brexit Party’s vote is cut to 15%, giving:

Labour Party: 21% - MEP elected Remain Party: 16% Brexit Party 15% Conservative Party: 13% UKIP: 4%

Labour gets the third MEP and its vote is cut to 10.5%, giving:

Remain Party: 16% - MEP elected Brexit Party 15% - MEP elected Conservative Party: 13% Labour Party: 10.5% UKIP: 4%

Remain gets the fourth MEP and the Brexit Party would get the fifth.

Outcome: 5 MEP seats = 2 Remain, 2 Brexit, 1 Labour Two out of the five MEPs are pro-Remain.

As this shows, the turn-out of remain voters is crucial, but pooling votes is even more crucial. Putting party politics to one side and voting for the strongest Remain candidate in your region is the best way to get Remain MEPs into Brussels.

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