This Thursday, voters in Scotland will elect six Members of the European Parliament. In total, the UK will elect 73 MEPs and between Thursday and Sunday millions of voters across the EU’s 28 member states will be electing 751 MEPs.
The parliament is the directly elected law-making institution of the European Union and amends, approves or rejects EU laws, many of which have an impact on our daily lives, from consumer protection to workers’ rights.
However, despite such a crucial role, for many people elections to the European Parliament are seen as being “secondary” elections, in which the electorate takes little notice of the European policies of the political parties and simply expresses its judgment on the government of the day. With declining voter turnout Ukip, like a number of other Eurosceptic parties, is set to gain a bigger foothold in the European Parliament through a mixture of protest and voter apathy.
These elections will shape the future direction of the EU, in areas ranging from climate change to immigration. The European policies of the political parties in these, and other areas, is therefore vital. It is also especially important this year as the key political groupings in the parliament have put forward candidates to be president of the European Commission, the body which proposes legislation.
It is not only important that electors in Scotland vote in these crucial elections, but also that those heading to the polling booths treat them with the respect they deserve.