The European elections take place later this month and if you’ve had a polling card through your letterbox but know very little about it all, we’re here to help.
The elections take place from May 22 to 25 and give voters the chance to influence the future political course of the European Union for the next five years.
Each member state has its own electoral laws and each one decides on what day its citizens will go to the polls during the four-day election period this month.
British voters will turn out on May 22 to elect their 73 MEPs.
The results from all member states will be announced on Sunday, May 25.
There have been 766 MEPs since Croatia joined the EU in July 2013 but this number is being scaled down to 751 and will stay at that level in future.
These MEPs will represent over 500 million citizens in 28 member states.
The seats are allocated among the various states, by the EU treaties, on the basis of “degressive proportionality”, meaning countries with larger populations have more seats than smaller ones but the latter have more seats than strict proportionality would imply.
As the European Union seeks to pull through the economic crisis and EU leaders reflect on what direction to take in future, these are the most important European elections to date.
They not only allow voters to pass judgment on EU leaders’ efforts to tackle the eurozone crisis and to express their views on plans for closer economic and political integration; they are also the first elections since the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 gave the European Parliament a number of important new powers.
One major new development introduced by the Treaty is that, when the EU member states nominate the next president of the European Commission to succeed José Manuel Barroso in autumn 2014, they will – for the first time – have to take account of the European election results.
The new Parliament must endorse this candidate: it “elects” the Commission president, in the words of the Treaty.
This means voters now have a clear say in who takes over at the helm of EU government.
Of the 13 European political parties, five have nominated a candidate to succeed the current Commission President.
The new political majority that emerges from the elections will also shape European legislation over the next five years in areas from the single market to civil liberties.
The Parliament – the only directly elected EU institution – is now a linchpin of the European decision-making system and has an equal say with national governments on nearly all EU laws.
The parties and their candidates:
An Independence from Europe
Chris Pain, Harrington Lodge, Gibraltar Road, Skegness, Lincs, PE25 3TJ
Val Pain, Toft House, Eaudyke Road, Friskney, Boston, Lincs, PE22 8RT
Alan Jesson, 33 Balmoral Avenue, Spalding, Lincs, PE11 2RN
John Beaver, 18 The Rowans, Gainsborough, DN21 1WH
Carl Mason, 21 Colingdale Drive, Boston, Lincs, PE21 9AZ
Kat Boettge, 4 Wyrale Drive, Nottingham, NG8 6NN
Sue Mallender, 135 Trent Boulevard, Lady Bay, Nottingham, NG2 5BN
Richard Mallender, 135 Trent Boulevard, Lady Bay, Nottingham, NG2 5BN
Peter Duncan Allen, 8 Slatelands Road, Glossop, SK13 6LH
Simon Edward Hales, Flat 155, Cavendish Court, Cavendish Street, Derby, DE1 1UD
UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Roger Helmer, Ivy House Farm, Peveril Road, Ashby Magna, Lutterworth, Leics, LE17 5NG
Margot Parker, 17 Church Walk, Weldon, Corby, Northants, NN17 3JX
Jonathan Deryck Bullock, 2 Thomas Rippin Close, Geddington, Northants NN14 1SF
Nigel Mark Wickens, 11 Croft Lane, Roade, Northampton, Northants, NN7 2QZ
Barry Joseph Mahoney, 10 Wentworth Way, Stoke Bruerne, Northants, NN12 7SA
Kevin Sills, 4 Aynsley Close, Desborough, Northants, NN14 2YD
David Wickham, 1 Grizedale Close, Corby, Northants, NN17 2YJ
John Dowle, The Holt, 25 Caister Road, Market Rasen, Lincs, LN8 3HY
Oliver Healey, Millstone Court, Millstone Lane, Leics, LE1 5JN
Terry Spencer, Andridgh House, 160 Midland Road, Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 1NG
Bill Newton Dunn, 10 Church Lane, Navenby, Lincoln, LN5 0EG
Issan Ul-Haque Ghazni, 47 Homefield Road, Aspley, Nottingham, NG8 5GH
Phil Knowles, Bream Cottage, Back Lane, East Langton, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 7TB
George Smid, Rose Lodge, Kings Cliffe Road, Wansford, PE8 6NU
Deborah Violet Newton-Cook, Avenue Joseph Chaudron, 91 1160 Auderghem, Belgium
Glenis Willmott, Winnow Barn, 27a Main Street, Lockington, DE74 2RH
Rory Palmer, 25 Raeburn Road, Leicester, LE2 3DR
Linda Woodings, 7 Ellwood Crescent, Nottingham, NG8 1GD
Khalid Hadadi, 21 Guthlaxton Street, Leicester, LE2 0SF
Nicki Brooks, 71 Burton Road, Carlton, Nottingham, NG4 3DL
British National Party
Catherine Ann Marie Duffy, 9 Babington Road, Rothley Leics, LE7 7PB
Robert Malcolm Brian West, 35 Farrow Avenue, Holbeach Lincs, PE12 7DG
Bob Brindley, 1509 Victoria Centre, Nottingham, NG1 3PL
Geoffrey William Dickens, ‘Pendale’, Main Street, Shawell, Lutterworth Leics, LE17 6AG
Paul Hilliard, 12 Maple Drive, Alvaston, Derby, DE24 0FT
Steve Ward, 03/49 Cornwallis Gardens, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 1LX
Emma McClarkin, 26 Soar House, Welland Place, St Mary’s Road, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 7GR
Andrew Iain Lewer, Hornbeam House, Hopton, Wirksworth, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 4DF
Rupert Oliver Matthews, 8 Fir Tree Close, Epsom, Surrey, KT17 3LD
Stephen John Castens, 9 Westhorpe, Ashley, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 8HQ
Brendan Clarke-Smith, 8 Amesbury Circus, Cinderhill, Nottingham NG8 6DA