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During the UK election for the European parliament, what happens if an independent candidate gets enough votes for two seats? Do they nominate someone to get the seat? Do the votes get shared out amongst the other candidates? Does the MEP get to vote twice in all votes? Or is the seat left empty?

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Great Britain uses a system called d'Hondt's method. This allocates seats to parties one at a time, as follows:

  • For each list (party or independent candidate), a priority is calculated: P = V/(S+1), where P is the priority to be calculated, V is the number of votes cast for this list, and S is the number of seats won by this list so far.
  • The list that has the highest calculated priority will get the next seat.
  • This is repeated until all seats have been allocated

If a list is exhausted (for example, an independent candidate is elected), then that list's priority is no longer calculated, and the excess votes for that list are effectively wasted.

For the sake of a hypothetical example, let's take a five-seat constituency which votes as follows:

+------+-----+-----+-----+-----+------------+---------------------------------------------------+
| Seat | LAB | IND | CON | LD  | Awarded to | Notes                                             |
+------+-----+-----+-----+-----+------------+---------------------------------------------------+
|   1  | 40% | 30% | 20% | 10% | LAB        |                                                   |
|   2  | 20% | 30% | 20% | 10% | IND        | IND list now exhausted, so no priority calculated |
|   3  | 20% | N/A | 20% | 10% | LAB        |                                                   |
|   4  | 13% | N/A | 20% | 10% | CON        |                                                   |
|   5  | 13% | N/A | 10% | 10% | LAB        | Would be IND if this list had a second candidate  |
+------+-----+-----+-----+-----+------------+---------------------------------------------------+
  • Well it seems a little unfair that the indepdendent only gets one seat. But thems the rules I guess. – zooby May 16 at 21:57
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    Well, the Independent is only one person, and one person cannot occupy multiple seats. If the said independent expects such a high result, (s)he would be wise to gather some mates and register a party so they can get multiple seats. – Joe C May 16 at 22:03
  • Note that this only applies to England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland uses a different voting scheme. – Steve Melnikoff May 17 at 9:01
  • @Abigail I think the independent should get two votes if he wins two seets. That would reflect the propotional will of the people. – zooby May 17 at 14:31
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    @zooby: That's really a separate question (which you should ask if you want a full answer), but basically, that's not how representative democracy works. Parties can tell their MEPs how to vote, but the MEPs are ultimately independent actors who have to decide for themselves when and whether to listen. – Kevin May 17 at 21:59

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