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United Kingdom European Parliament election, 1999
United Kingdom
← 1994 10 June 1999 2004 →

All 87 seats of the United Kingdom's seats
in the European Parliament
Turnout 24.0% (Decrease12.4%)[1]
  First party Second party Third party
  William Hague Foreign Secretary (2010).jpg Tony Blair WEF (cropped).jpg ASHDOWN Paddy.jpg
Leader William Hague Tony Blair Paddy Ashdown
Party Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat
Alliance EPP–ED PES ALDE
Leader since 19 June 1997 21 July 1994 16 July 1988
Last election 18 seats, 26.8% 62 seats, 42.6% 2 seats, 17%
Seats before 26 43 11
Seats won 36 29 10
Seat change Increase10* Decrease14* Decrease1*
Popular vote 3,578,218 2,803,821 1,266,549
Percentage 33.5% 26.3% 11.9%
Swing Increase6.5% Decrease16.4% Decrease4.3%

European Parliament election 1999 - UK results.png
Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results

Notional results calculated by House of Commons Library showing 1994 result if conducted under proportional representation.

*Indicates change in boundaries - so this is a notional figure.

Leader of Largest Party before election

Tony Blair
Labour

Subsequent Leader of Largest Party

William Hague
Conservative

The European Parliament Election, 1999 was the United Kingdom's part of the European Parliament election 1999. It was held on 10 June 1999. Following the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, it was the first European election to be held in the United Kingdom where the whole country used a system of proportional representation. In total, 87 Members of the European Parliament were elected from the United Kingdom.

The change in voting system resulted in significant changes in seats. The Conservatives won double the number of seats they had won in the previous European election, in 1994, while the Labour Party saw its seats reduced from 62 to 29. The Liberal Democrats saw their number of seats increase to 10 from just 2 in the previous election. The UK Independence Party (UKIP), Green Party and Plaid Cymru gained their first ever seats in the European Parliament.

The House of Commons Library calculated that if the 1994 European elections had been held under proportional representation, Labour would have won 43 MEPs, the Conservatives 26, the Lib Dems 11, the SNP 3 and Plaid Cymru 1, and that notional seat changes were Conservatives up 10, Labour down 14, Lib Dems down 1, UKIP up 3, Greens up 2, SNP down 1, Plaid Cymru up 1 and DUP, SDLP and UUP unchanged.[2] The notional results and seat changes are shown in the results box for this article.

It was the first European Parliament election to be held since the 1997 general election which resulted in a change of government from Conservative to Labour.

Turnout was 24%, the lowest of any member state in the 1999 election where the EU average was 49.51%. It was also the lowest of any European election in the United Kingdom, and the lowest of any member state until the 2009 election.[1]

Background[edit]

Electoral System[edit]

The European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999 introduced a closed-list party list system method of proportional representation, calculated using the D'Hondt method into Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, the Single Transferable Vote, which is also a form of proportional representation, which had been used since the first European election in 1979 was retained. The Act also created twelve new electoral regions, which were based on the British government's nine administrative Regions of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The effect of the introduction of proportional representation was that many small parties won seats to the European Parliament for the first time.

Results (UK-wide)[edit]

Map showing most popular party by counting area.

The Conservatives doubled the number of seats from the last European election. Labour saw their 62 seats reduced to just 29. It was the first European Parliament election to be held since the change of United Kingdom government from Conservative to Labour two years earlier. The Liberal Democrats saw their number of seats increase to 10 from just 2 in the previous election. The UK Independence Party, Green Party and Plaid Cymru won their first ever seats in the European Parliament.

These changes were largely due to the move to proportional representation from first-past-the-post.[3] The House of Commons Library calculated that if the 1994 European elections had been held under proportional representation, Labour would have won 43 MEPs, the Conservatives 26, the Lib Dems 11, the SNP 3 and Plaid Cymru 1, and that notional seat changes were Conservatives up 10, Labour down 14, Lib Dems down 1, UKIP up 3, Greens up 2, SNP down 1, Plaid Cymru up 1 and DUP, SDLP and UUP unchanged.[4]

Party Votes won  % of vote Loss/Gain Seats  % of seats Loss/Gain
vs actual
'94 result
Loss/Gain
vs notional
'94 result
Conservative 3,578,218 33.5 +6.5 36 41.4 +18 +10
Labour 2,803,821 26.3 -16.4 29 33.3 -33 -14
Liberal Democrat 1,266,549 11.9 -4.3 10 11.9 +8 -1
UKIP 696,057 6.5 +5.6 3 3.4 +3 +3
Green 568,236 5.3 +2.3 2 2.4 +2 +2
SNP 268,528 2.5 -0.6 2 2.3 ±0 -1
DUP 192,762 1.8 +0.8 1 1.1 ±0 ±0
SDLP 190,731 1.8 +0.8 1 1.1 ±0 ±0
Plaid Cymru 185,235 1.7 +0.7 2 2.3 +2 +1
Pro-Euro Conservative 138,097 1.3 New 0
UUP 119,507 1.1 +0.3 1 1.1 ±0 ±0
Sinn Féin 117,643 1.1 +0.8 0
BNP 102,647 1.0 New 0
Liberal 93,051 0.9 +0.3 0
Socialist Labour 86,749 0.8 New 0
Scottish Green 57,142 0.5 +0.4 0
Scottish Socialist 39,720 0.4 New 0
PUP 22,494 0.2 New 0
Natural Law 21,327 0.2 -0.4 0
UK Unionist 20,283 0.2 New 0
Alliance 14,391 0.1 ±0 0
Socialist Alliance 7,203 0.1 New 0
Humanist 2,586 0.0 New 0
Weekly Worker 1,724 0.0 New 0
Socialist (GB) 1,510 0.1 New 0
Others 84,872 0.8 0
Total 10,681,083 87 100
Source: BBC News[5], UK Parliament Briefing[6]

Results Breakdown[edit]

Great Britain[edit]

Summary of the election results for Great Britain

Party Votes won  % of vote Loss/Gain Seats  % of seats Loss/Gain
vs actual
'94 result
Loss/Gain
vs notional
'94 result
Conservative 3,578,218 35.8 +7.9 36 42.9 +18 +10
Labour 2,803,821 28.0 -16.1 29 34.5 -33 -14
Liberal Democrat 1,266,549 12.7 -4.1 10 11.9 +8 -1
UKIP 696,057 7.0 +6.0 3 3.6 +3 +3
Green 568,236 6.3 +2.6 2 2.4 +2 +2
SNP 268,528 2.7 -0.5 2 2.4 ±0 -1
Plaid Cymru 185,235 1.9 +0.8 2 2.4 +2 +1
Pro-Euro Conservative 138,097 1.4 New 0
BNP 102,647 1.0 New 0
Liberal 93,051 0.9 +0.3 0
Socialist Labour 86,749 0.9 New 0
Scottish Green 57,142 0.6 +0.4 0
Scottish Socialist 39,720 0.4 New 0
Natural Law 20,329 0.4 -0.2 0
Socialist Alliance 7,203 0.1 New 0
Humanist 2,586 0.0 New 0
Weekly Worker 1,724 0.0 New 0
Socialist (GB) 1,510 0.1 New 0
Others 84,872 0.8 0
Total 10,002,273 84 100
Source: BBC News[5], UK Parliament Briefing[7]
All parties with more than 50,000 votes shown

Northern Ireland[edit]

Summary of the election results for Northern Ireland[5]

European Parliament election 1999: Northern Ireland[8]
Party Candidate(s) Seats Loss/Gain First Preference Votes
Number % of vote
DUP Ian Paisley 1 0 192,762 28.40
SDLP John Hume 1 0 190,731 28.10
UUP Jim Nicholson 1 0 119,507 17.61
Sinn Féin Mitchel McLaughlin 0 0 117,643 17.33
PUP David Ervine 0 0 22,494 3.31
UK Unionist Robert McCartney 0 0 20,283 2.99
Alliance Seán Neeson 0 0 14,391 2.12
Natural Law James Anderson 0 0 998 0.15
Turnout 678,809

MEPs defeated[edit]

Labour

Liberal Democrat

Conservative

Pro-Euro Conservative Party

Independent Labour

Scottish Socialist Party

Leeds Left Alliance

Aftermath[edit]

Labour's results resulted in a debate within Labour about the introduction of proportional representation. In September 1998, a poll of 150 MPs had found that 58% backed the introduction of proportional representation. A follow up poll ran on the Sunday after the election found that this had decreased to 43%, with the majority wanting a return to the first-past-the-post system.[9] It has also been argued however, that the introduction of proportional representation actually reduced Labour's losses as first-past-the-post is more sensitive to swings in public opinion.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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