Friday, 11 October 2013

MK and the 2014 Euro-elections

In my column in this week’s Cornish Guardian, I focused the upcoming Euro-elections. It was as follows:

On 22nd May 2014, voters will be going to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament.

Mebyon Kernow has long campaigned for a separate MEP for Cornwall but, next year, six MEPs will be elected from a massive ‘South West’ constituency, via a list form of proportional representation. As well as Cornwall, the seat will include Bristol, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire, and the island of Gibraltar.

At this stage, it is very unlikely that Mebyon Kernow will be putting forward candidates.

The fact that Cornish voters make up a tenth of the constituency poses great difficulties for MK, which only contests local and Westminster elections within Cornwall.

To get an MEP elected in such a ‘South West’ seat, the MK candidates would – based on past results – need to poll over 90% of the vote in Cornwall.

But if that wasn’t bad enough, other aspects of the electoral process are unfairly rigged against Mebyon Kernow.

To be allowed a party election broadcast, for example, MK would have to stand in all (nine) euro-constituencies in England – an absolute nonsense – whereas “regional” parties standing in the (single) Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland seats will be allowed their own broadcasts.

And in order to stand, a deposit of £5,000 has to be paid, but this money is returned if the slate of candidates achieves more than 2.5% of the vote across the whole of the “South West.” But MK would need to poll about 23% of the Cornish vote to simply save its deposit.

MK did contest the Euro-elections in 2009, which took place on the same day as the first-ever elections to Cornwall Council, thanks to donations from local party members.

In Cornwall – the only area in which we campaigned – MK polled 11,534 votes (7% of the total). Outside of Cornwall – where the party did not campaign – it unsurprisingly averaged less than one quarter of one percent (0.24%) and, therefore, across the constituency as a whole, MK polled 1% of the total vote.

MK continues to challenge the Government and the Electoral Commission to acknowledge the inequity of the situation, arguing that the authorities had a moral obligation to return the £5,000 deposit to MK because of the number of votes achieved in Cornwall, but they have so far refused to even consider the issue. 

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