Students' Guide to the May 2019 European Elections

European Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in the UK on Thursday 23rd May 2019 and the registration deadline is Tuesday 7th May.

These democratic elections give all adult EU citizens (which includes UK citizens) the opportunity to select who will represent them in the European Parliament. Find out more.

Photo of a few European flags

Although there is a possibility that the UK will leave the EU sometime in the next few years, voting in these elections is important, perhaps more than ever before.

The elections will have a direct impact on your life. They will help decide how Europe will act in the coming years to address your concerns about jobs, business, security, migration and climate change. Because Europe belongs to all of us, we should all take these decisions together.

Registering to vote / the electoral roll

If you are not already registered, register here. You must be registered in order to vote.

The registration deadline for these elections is Tuesday 7th May.

As a student, you may be able to register both at home and at your term-time address. You can register if you are a British, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen who is residing in the UK. See the Your vote matters – Students page for more information.

What candidates and parties are there?

Your vote is for a party, rather than a candidate. You can only vote for the parties fielding candidates in the region where you are voting.

Who is standing in the European elections in Wales?

Those UK parties which have MEPs then join Europe-wide alliances with parties and politicans from other EU nations. A list of these can be found on the European Elections website (look on that page for “What are the political groups in the European Parliament?”).

Here’s how the parties standing in Wales map into European parties and groups:

These alliances can change, and some individual MEPs belonging to UK parties have disaffiliated from their Europe-wide alliances. Socialist Labour Party and The Socialist Party of Great Britain do not currently have representation in the European Parliament.

Who is representing Wales at the moment?

Wales is represented by four Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), details here.

I’m new to voting in (EU) elections – which party stands for the things I believe in?

There are some tools which can help you figure out which political parties have voting records most similar to your own views.

You Vote EU gives you a series of statements and asks if you agree with them. At the end, you get a chance to highlight which of the topics you felt strongest about. The tool then shows you which parties have most in common with your own views and where the differences lie.

Voting records show how politicians and parties have actually behaved and are likely to behave in future, so they can be a better means of choosing who to support than reading manifestos, because politicians often lie and they are under no legal obligation to stick to their manifesto promises.

There are other considerations when voting: you might find that a party which broadly agrees with you has better chances of getting candidates elected than one which is a closer match, so you might vote strategically. But as a first step, it’s a great tool of figuring out how much their candidates’ views are likely to have in common with your own.

What’s the European Parliament and what does it do?

The European Parliament is part of the infrastructure of the European Union, and it can approve, amend or reject European laws. The laws are proposed by other entities (the European Commission), which are not directly elected by the public.

Perhaps the easiest comparison is that the European Parliament works a bit like the House of Lords does in the UK.

The topics the European Parliament covers are:

  • animal rights
  • consumer rights
  • the environment
  • international trade
  • regional economic development
  • workers’ rights

The BBC Guide to the European Parliament’s Powers illustrates where it fits in the structure of the EU.