EU elections voting system explained: D’Hondt worry


Christina Pagel gives us a timely and illustrated explainer on the D’Hondt system for the European elections, with tips on how to maximise the impact of your vote.

The UK will be taking part in the EU elections next week, and unlike our usual “First past the post” voting system, seats in the EU parliament will be allocated using a form of proportional representation called the D’Hondt method. Any form of proportional representation is more favourable to smaller parties than “First past the post”. In an entirely proportional system you should just be able to vote for the party you like the best and know that your vote ‘matters’. But why then has there been a frenzy of debate over the failure of a “Remain Alliance” between the smaller Remain parties? And does it matter that the Brexit Party have hoovered up votes from UKIP and the Conservatives and, to a lesser extent, Labour? The answer is yes and no – read on to find out how the D’Hondt method allocates seats and what it means for the EU elections.

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British exceptionalism is an intellectual trap

14803056703_99ee8a978b_oHelene von Bismarck warns Britons and Europeans against adopting the exceptionalist narrative of British history from the Brexiters. The assumption that the United Kingdom has always been too different from the rest of the EU to make a success of its membership is based on a superficial reading not just of British, but of European history.

What are non-British observers of British politics to make of the Brexit drama of the last few months? Is all this just the culmination of a doomed British EU-membership that was always destined to fail? This interpretation is tempting, but ultimately ahistorical and lacking in nuance. Frustrated as many Europeans understandably are with the extent of ignorance and sometimes open hostility towards the EU displayed in the British Brexit debate, this is no excuse to base one’s interpretation of Brexit on stereotypes or a selective reading of history.

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The European Parliament elections: seven things you need to know

arnaud-jaegers-253360-unsplash.jpgNominations for election to the European Parliament closed on April 25th. We now know which parties will be contesting the elections (if they happen), and who those parties have selected to stand for them in each region of the UK. UCL Constitution Unit’s Alan Renwick offers a brief guide to how the elections will work and what we can expect to learn from them.

With little sign of progress in the Brexit talks between the government and the Labour Party, UK participation in next month’s European Parliament elections looks increasingly likely. The parties have nominated their candidates and begun to launch their campaigns. Much is being said about how the electoral system will shape the outcome, but not all of it is accurate. This post provides a quick guide to the key points and reaches two main conclusions. First, the system will disadvantage small parties: in particular, the anti-Brexit parties will be punished for their disunity. Second, anyone wanting to read the results as a proxy second Brexit referendum will need to do so with great care.

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A General Election is looking more likely – what are the implications for the two main parties?

46049392424_ef897d1559_oChristina Pagel and Christabel Cooper analyse the results of a UCL survey (with fieldwork conducted by YouGov), which was generously funded by UCL MathematicsUCL CORU and UCL’s Grand Challenge of Cultural UnderstandingThe data shows that as the preferred Brexit outcomes of Labour and Conservative voters harden, both parties stand to suffer in any imminent General Election. (See also the first post of this series of analysis and the results)

In new research funded by UCL, we carried out a survey (fieldwork by YouGov) of over 5000 representative UK voters at the end of March, asking them to rank four possible Brexit outcomes: Leaving with No Deal, Leaving with May’s Deal, Leaving with a Softer Brexit and Remain. The results showed a very divided country, with most Leave voters preferring No Deal and most other voters preferring Remain – with No Deal as the outcome they were most scared of.

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From Cautious Member to Bold Leader? The Netherlands in the EU after Brexit

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has caused concern in Europe about further defections, but Lisa ten Brinke, Research Associate at the Dahrendorf Forum, argues Brexit has had the opposite effect—at least in the Netherlands.


The causes and consequences of Brexit have been analysed from many angles—from the EU’s internal struggles to the rise of populism and the end of Western hegemony. Less attention has been paid, however, to the position of member states themselves, and what their foreign policy behaviour can tell us about the impact of the UK’s departure on Europe. The Netherlands, in particular, provides an interesting case: as one of the EU’s founding member states and one of the UK’s closest allies and trading partners, the country is facing tough choices in the wake of Brexit.

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