I try to take notice of what goes on in politics in the UK because it gives a much better platform for complaining when things don’t go the way you want them to. The European Union seems often quite arcane and opaque in its operations, and it always seems that the unelected (or indirectly elected) bodies are the ones with all the power. Even so, if I don’t bother to find out what’s going on in the elections for the European Parliament, then I have abdicated the one bit of responsibility towards trying to make things better that the ordinary citizens are afforded.
I get to vote in the eastern region of England, and the nominations closed at 4pm yesterday as I write this. Shortly afterwards, I downloaded the candidate lists.
The elections operate on a proportional representation system using party tickets with a list of candidates. With seven seats up for grabs, each party puts forward a ranked list of seven candidates: the top of the list is the one most likely to be elected. I don’t quite understand the formula by which the seats are allocated, but the basic idea is the more votes your party gets the more candidates they get elected.
First thing to note is that of the ten parties contesting the election (making a total of 70 nominees), only one (the Conservatives, alas) has nominated a woman as their top candidate. Of the rest, the Greens, Lib Dems, Labour and “No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights”, have a woman as their second candidate.
Wikipedia tells me that 35% of European Parliament seats are held by women. On the candidate lists, 18 are definitely women (determined by their preferred pronouns and/or presentation on websites) or have female-associated names; another two have names that could be either male or female. Assuming they are women, 20 out of 70 is just short of 29%. Of the three main parties, Labour and LibDems have gone for more or less evenly split teams by gender (one of the candidates I’m not sure about is Labour, so I can’t tell for sure whether it’s a 4-3 or 3-4 split m-f). The Conservatives, despite having a woman at the top of their list, only have one other female candidate.
It is perhaps no surprise that the parties with no women on their tickets (at least, in the Eastern Region) are the BNP and UKIP. “An Independence from Europe- UK Independence Now” fields only one female candidate, and she’s at the bottom of their list.
For the sake of balance, I will mention the other parties contesting the election not mentione dyet: they are the Christian Peoples Alliance and “English Democrats – I’m English, NOT British, NOT EUropean” (that’s how they appear on the official list of parties…)
There are a few that I won’t bother with contacting, because I wouldn’t vote for them anyway: the Conservatives, BNP, UKIP, “An Independence from Europe”, and “English Democrats”. I’m sceptical of any political party calling itself Christian, but I’m curious about the lack of apostrophe in their name (do they really stand for all peoples who are Christian, or just White British? Most of their candidates live in the same town…) I also want to find out how they will represent the many people in the Eastern Region who are not Christian, should they be elected.
No2EU accuse the EU of eroding workers’ rights and being undemocratic, so I want to ask them specifically about how they would make things better and whether European cooperation can be maintained and still support workers’ rights.
I also want to ask about some issues that I campaign or care about: my emails will probably include questions about the candidates’ views on the following topics:
- Sex workers’ rights issues: “Swedish” vs “New Zealand” model/decriminalisation
- What the role of the EU, and within it, the EP, should be and how democratic representation can be made more central to EU politics so that people have an investment in voting.
- What global/European issues are most likely to affect this region, and how they hope to influence them
- Privacy: data security, surveillance
- Censorship: sexual material; political material; internet measures
- Technology, Energy and Environment: to what extent can the various needs and demands of these sectors be reconciled?
- Which political group will you join in the EP, if elected, and why does that most closely fit your political views?
Still working on the final wording, and awaiting replies from the No2EU and Christian Peoples Alliance party offices, since their candidates don’t seem to have election campaign sites with contact details on them. Over the weekend, I will get those done and will probably report back here when I know where the parties and their candidates stand on the issues.
(Oh, yeah – not looking forwards to the CPA answer on sex workers’ rights…)