We don’t want to live in a fascist dystopian any more than you do
The 27 member states of the EU will have the chance to vote in the European Parliament elections between May 23 and 26. Seeing as Brexit has now been pushed back until October 31 – due to the rejection of Theresa May’s withdrawal terms by the biggest margin in parliamentary history and the ensuing chaos – the UK will now also take part.
But hold up, what exactly is going on with the European Parliament and election time? Well, it’s a chamber of elected representatives for each of the EU’s member states. Each state has a number of representatives roughly proportional to its size – Malta (tiny) has six, Germany (large) has 96 while the UK (medium) has 73. These Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) stick up for you on the European stage by voting on EU laws and legislation, and overseeing the allocation of its €145bn annual budget. EU voters (that’s you buddy!) have the power to elect these members.
If you care about measures on climate change, immigration, and workers’ rights – laws that MEPs vote on – make sure your voice is heard come May 23. Still not sure why this is important? Here’s a roundup of reasons why you should vote.
UKIP CAME OUT ON TOP LAST TIME
The election of far-right groups to the European Parliament feeds into the legitimising of their hate-fueled narratives, and acts as a justification of their continued existence. UKIP are effectively an electoral redundancy now in the UK – they lost nearly all of their local council seats last year and they do not have a single sitting MP – but they hold 24 of the UK’s 74 seats in the European chamber, more than any other party.
UKIP’s ruddy-faced former leader Nigel Farage has held a seat in the European Parliament since 1999, no doubt using his £6,537 per month salary from the job to help raise the profile of his anti-European project. We have to vote out people like Mr Farage to help prevent the spread of and legitimising of far-right ideologies across Europe.
STOP THE SPREAD OF THE FAR RIGHT
Brexit has encouraged nationalist and anti-EU groups to form in other European nations, and as the laws voted on in the EU Parliament include those on immigration, it’s imperative that the rise of these groups within the bloc is limited as much as possible. Nationalist parties moved into first place for several countries in the 2014 votes, and are expected to make further gains this time around in Germany, Spain, and Italy in particular.
The UK is only as good a country as what it votes for. In 2014 we let UKIP win the European Elections. That means in the context of Europe, we have been "the UKIP Country" for 5 years. That's who we are. Is it who you are?— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) April 16, 2019
HELP THE FIGHT AGAINST THE CLIMATE CRISIS
The EU can have an impact on the future existence of the human race at a critical time in our planet’s history (it’s likely to burn in hellfire unless we collectively commit to zero emissions very soon). The EU informs climate change targets across the bloc which are currently focused on cutting emissions substantially – 80-89 per cent by 2050. These proposals are part of a plan to turn Europe “into a highly energy efficient and low-carbon economy,” and to “boost the economy, create jobs and strengthen Europe's competitiveness.” It's worth noting that that 2050 targets have been criticised by Extinction Rebellion, who argue that action is needed in a much shorter time frame, however these commitments are a step in the right direction.
SHAPE THE FUTURE OF THE EU
The elections are held once every five years, but the 2019 vote is being hailed as “the most consequential in a generation” given its current timing during Brexit. The UK’s leaving has the potential to further destabilise the union and some are viewing the elections as a referendum on the appetite for the European project as a whole. But, as Jon Stone reports in The Independent, a strong result for Labour in the elections could see the priorities of the EU and its policies shift leftward. The latest polls show Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party on top with 30 per cent of the vote while Labour is close behind in second on 22 per cent, so get voting!