Independents in European Elections

Elections for the European Parliament are held every five years in the UK. The next election is scheduled for June 2014.

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) are elected by party regional list system. The UK is divided into twelve electoral regions and each region elects between three and ten MEPs. The party list system is a form of proportional representation – so each party or independent gets a proportional share of the vote.

A £5000 deposit is required to stand in European elections. This will be returned if a candidate obtains 2.5% of the votes cast in the entire region.

There are restrictions on who can stand in European elections, similar to that of UK parliamentary and local elections. Interestingly, you cannot stand for EU elections if you are a current MP.

The electoral legislation for EU elections is very similar to legislation in UK parliamentary elections. Independent Candidates are only allowed to have the description on the ballot paper of ‘independent’ or no description at all. Independent Candidates are also entitled to a free copy of the full electoral register and to a free delivery of election literature to each household in the region.

It is extremely difficult for independents to be successful in European elections. This is due to several factors:

  • The regions for EU elections are huge. London was a single region and had an electorate of five million
  • The costs of running in a European election are enormous - the spending limits range from £270,000 - £360,000.
  • There has never been a directly elected independent from the UK in the EU Parliament.
  • The party list system is arguably biased against independent candidates

However, in the 2009 European Parliament elections, Jan Jananayagam stood in London and achieved 50,014 (2.86%) and her deposit back.

Non-Inscrits (NIs)

There are seven political groups in the European Parliament. MEPs who are not affiliated to these groups are known as Non-Inscrits (NI). Many NIs are not ‘independent’ but are members of national political parties – for instance the two BNP MEPs are classed as NIs. There are currently 26 NIs in the European Parliament.

There is currently only one independent MEP in the European Parliament, Nikki Sinclar MEP. She was elected for UKIP, but had the whip removed in March 2010. She remains a party member of UKIP

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