1 Welsh Democracy 1. The European Union The people of Wales now live in a tiered democracy stretching down from the European Union, through the UK Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and local authorities, to small community councils at the most local end. Direct elections take place to institutions at all these levels, though by different methods. This vertical arrangement does not necessarily convey the relative importance of these institutions to the public. The UK Parliament is the ultimate sovereign body for the UK, but in practice sovereignty in some spheres has been ceded upwards and downwards to the European Parliament and to devolved institutions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. In recent polls in Wales, a majority stated that they thought the National Assembly was the primary institution for managing Welsh interests. The United Kingdom joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973 under a Conservative Government, led by Edward Heath. The subsequent Labour Government, under Harold Wilson elected in February 1974, was pledged to renegotiate the terms of entry and to hold a referendum. The question asked was: Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)? This referendum took place on 5th June 1975 and produced an overwhelming Yes vote throughout the UK, including Wales. The European Referendum 1975 County Turnout Yes Vote % Gwynedd , Clwyd , Powys , Dyfed , West Glamorgan , Mid Glamorgan , South Glamorgan , Gwent , Wales , Scotland 1,332, N Ireland , England 14,918, UK ,378, Mid Glamorgan was the only county in Wales, and one of only ten in Great Britain, to register less than a 60 per cent Yes vote. The other nine were in Scotland. The lowest Yes vote in Britain was in Scotland Western Isles 29.5per cent.
2 As part of the UK, Wales is now part of the European Union of 27 member states, comprising a population of 498 million. It is run through its major institutions European Parliament directly elected every five years Council of the European Union which represents the 27 national governments European Commission the EU s civil service European Court of Justice which interprets and ensures compliance with European law and treaties European Central Bank which is responsible for European monetary policy European Court of Auditors audits the EU s finances Role of the European Parliament Debates legislative proposals, directives and regulations. Scrutinises the work of the Commission and Council in debates and through written and oral questions. Shares (with the Council) authority over the EU budget. At the end of the procedure it either adopts or rejects the budget in its entirety. Its committees also scrutinize policies, prepare reports and legislative amendments. Origins and size of the European Parliament The European Parliament first met as the European Parliamentary Assembly on 19 March 1958, changing its title to the European Parliament on 30 March At that time its 142 members were appointed by the national parliaments of each of the member states. When the UK, Ireland and Denmark joined the European Communities in 1973, the number of members was increased to 178. At the Paris Summit in December 1974 it was decided to move to direct election, but agreement was not reached until July The first elections took place on 7 and 10 June When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, the maximum number of members of the parliament was increased from 732 to 785, but for the 2009 elections this was reduced to 736. However, the Lisbon Treaty allows for a maximum of 751 Members. The UK elects 72 members in 12 regions. Wales elects four members. Directly elected members by state from 2009 Austria 17 Belgium 22 Bulgaria 17 Cyprus 6 Czech Republic 22 Denmark 13 Estonia 6 Finland 13 France 72 Germany 99 Greece 22 Hungary 22 Ireland 12 Italy 72 Latvia 8 Lithuania 12 Luxembourg 6 Malta 5 Netherlands 25 Poland 50 Portugal 22 Romania 33 Slovakia 13 Slovenia 7 Spain 50 Sweden 18 United Kingdom 72 Total 736 (absolute majority: 369)
3 European political groupings There are seven political groups in the European Parliament, plus one non-group group. 25 members are needed to form a group and at least one quarter of the member states (i.e. currently seven) must be represented. Some members are non-attached. The seven groups are 1. European People s Party (Christian Democrats) the EPP centre-right group is the largest group, with 265 members. It holds 10 of the 22 chairmanships of committees and sub committees. It has no members from the UK, since the Conservative Party s decision to leave this group and ally itself with the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. 2. Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament 184 members from 27 countries, including the 13 members of the UK s Labour Party 3. Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe 84 members from 19 countries, including the 11 members of the UK s Liberal Democrats. 4. Greens/European Free Alliance 55 members including, from the UK, the single Plaid Cymru member, two Scottish National Party members, and two from the UK Green Party. 5. European Conservatives and Reformists Group 55 members from eight countries, including UK s 25 Conservative Party members. The other countries represented in this group are Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands. 6. Confederal Group of the European United Left Nordic Green Left 35 members from 17 parties across 12 countries, but none from the UK. 7. Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group 32 members including the 13 members of the UK Independence Party European Elections in Wales and UK With one exception UK MEPs are elected by means of proportional representation regional closed party lists. The exception is Northern Ireland that uses the Single Transferable Vote system. The d Hondt voting system In England, Scotland and Wales the system used is the d Hondt system. This system is also used for electing the regional list members of the National Assembly for Wales. It is also used in European elections by the Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, Hungary and the Netherlands. The d Hondt system, sometimes described as the highest average method, is used for allocating seats in a party list system. The political parties put forward a list of candidates in rank order. Voters vote for only one of these parties. It then works like this: Let us say that Party A wins 40 votes, Party B wins 30 votes and Party C wins 24 votes. Party A has the most votes so wins the first seat. Its total of 40 is now divided by the number of seats it has plus one, i.e. 2. This leaves it with a remainder of 20 votes. So Party A now has one seat and 20 votes, Party B has 30 votes and Party C has 24 votes. So Party B wins the next seat because it has the highest number of votes. Its votes are now divided by the number of seats it has plus one, i.e. 2. This leaves it with a remainder of 15 votes.
4 So Party A now has 20 votes, Party B 15 votes and Party C 24 votes. Party C now has the most votes so it wins the next seat. Its votes are now divided by the number of seats it has plus one, i.e. 2, leaving it with 12 votes. The allocation of seats continues in this way until all the seats have been allocated to a political party. European election results in Wales The UK elected 72 members in 2009, of whom 52 were re-elected and 20 were newly elected. Exactly two-thirds (48) were men and one third (24) were women. Wales s four MEPs 2 men and 2 women comprised 1 Labour, 1 Plaid Cymru, 1 Conservative and 1 UKIP. Three of the four are new MEPs. The one re-elected member is Jill Evans of Plaid Cymru UK representation by party Party Seats Conservative 25 Labour 13 UKIP 13 Liberal Democrat 11 Green Party 2 British National Party 2 Scottish National Party 2 Plaid Cymru 1 Sinn Fein 1 DUP 1 Ulster Unionist 1 Total 72 The four members elected in 2009 to represent Wales are: Mrs. Kay Swinburne Derek Vaughan Jill Evans John Andreas Bufton Conservative Labour Plaid Cymru UKIP
5 Votes and share by party, European elections in Wales, 2004 and 2009 Party Votes % Share Votes % Share % Share UK 2009 Conservative 145, , Labour 138, , Plaid Cymru 126, , UKIP 87, , Liberal Democrats 73, , Green Party 38, , British National Party 37, , Christian Party 13, N/A N/A N/A Socialist Labour Party 12, N/A N/A N/A No2EU: Yes to Democracy 8, N/A N/A N/A Jury Team 3, N/A N/A N/A Total valid votes cast 684, ,686 Turnout 30.5% 41.9% Votes cast for parties in European elections in Wales Date Lab Con PC LibDem UKIP Greens BNP , , ,702 73,082 87,585 38,160 37, , , ,888 91,166 96,677 32,761 27, , , ,235 51,283 n/a 16,146 n/a , , ,478 82,480 n/a 19,413 n/a , , ,062 28,785 n/a 99,546 n/a , , , ,947 n/a n/a n/a , ,729 83,399 67,962 n/a n/a n/a Percentage of the total vote cast for parties in European elections in Wales Date Lab Con Plaid Lib Dem UKIP Greens BNP n/a n/a 2.0 n/a n/a 11.2 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a In 2009 turnout in the European elections was lower in Wales than the average for the UK, but higher than in Scotland. The two highest turnouts in Wales were in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (37.9 per cent) and Brecon and Radnor (37.8 per cent), The two lowest turnouts were in Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (24 per cent) and Swansea East (23.4 per cent).
6 UK turnout (34.7 per cent) was lower than the average for the EU (43 per cent). The highest turnouts were in Luxembourg (91 per cent) and Belgium (90 per cent) where voting is compulsory. Turnout was lowest in Slovakia and Lithuania, both at 20 per cent. Percentage Turnout Date EU UK Wales Scotland N.I Wales in Europe In addition to its four Members of the European Parliament, Wales is represented on the EU s Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee. Both committees are advisory and have 344 members each. The Committee of the Regions represents regional and local government. The Commission and the Council are obliged to consult with the Committee of the Regions on all proposals that might concern regional and local government. Wales has four members two full members and two alternate members. Two are drawn from the National Assembly, and two are drawn from local government on the nomination of the Welsh Local Government Association. They are nominated by the Assembly s First Minister to the UK government s Foreign Secretary. They are then forwarded to the Council of Ministers for approval. The current Welsh members of the Committee of the Regions ( ) are: Christine Chapman AM, Labour (Full Member) Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru (Alternate Member) Councillor Robert Bright, Labour, Newport City Council (Full Member) Councillor Chris Holley, Liberal Democrat, Swansea City Council (Alternate Member) The Economic and Social Committee represents civil society, including business and trades unions, and must be consulted on proposals from the Commission before they go to the Council of Ministers. The current Welsh members of the Economic and Social Committee are: Dr Rose d Sa, lawyer, Newport Brian Curtis, RMT trade union, Barry Tom Jones, farmer, Welshpool EU Representation in Wales The Commission of the EU, previously the European Economic Community, has maintained a formal office in Cardiff since 1976, although it had a presence here before the 1975 referendum. The office is a source of information about the EU and its programmes as well as well as being the Commission s eyes and ears in Wales. It is part of the EC s Directorate-General for Communications, headed by European Commissioner Margot Wallstrom. The current Commission representative in Wales is Andy Klom