I keep seeing this, and having to rant about it, so here it is in a handy post. Simply: anyone who gives blanket advice to just vote for the biggest Remain party either doesn’t understand how the D’Hondt electoral system works, or is a Lib Dem activist trying to shore up Lib Dem votes.

“Vote for the biggest Remain party” is terrible advice, and, in many regions will actually reduce the number of Remain MPs.

It’s usually more efficient to distribute votes in a region so that multiple parties get single seats in a region rather than trying to pile up seats for a single party (as long as those smaller parties are likely to meet the threshold for a singe seat).

This is because the way that D’Hondt has been implemented in the UK (on a regional rather than national basis) means that it’s not as proportional a system as it was designed to be (interesting blog post from the LSE about the complexities here: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/…/when-a-tactical-vote-may-not-wor…/)

As the LSE blog post says: “If, for example, tactical voting pushes one pro-Remain party close to 15% but reduces the two others to 5 or 6%, the bigger party will not have enough to win multiple seats (look again at Figure 1 and the threshold for winning more than one seat) while the others could both fail to win a single seat. That could reduce the pro-Remain parties to a single seat where three could have been won.”

The effective number of votes = votes / number of seats already allocated + 1

So say the result is:

Brexit: 10,000
Con: 6,500
Lab: 7,000
LD: 4,000
Green: 4,000

And the region has 7 seats. They’ll be Brexit (10k/1), Lab (7k/1), Con (6.5k/1), Brexit (10k/2), LD (4k/1), Green (4k/1), Lab (3k/2)
=5 Brexit MPS, 2 Remain

BUT if 50% of Remain voters vote tactically for LDs:

Brexit (10k/1), Lab (7k/1), Con (6.5k/1), LD (6k/1), Brexit (10k/2), Lab (7k/2), Con (6.5k/2)
=6 Brexit MPs, 1 Remain

With both the Lib Dems and Greens polling higher, it might even be tactically possible vote for Change UK.

However, trying to vote tactically is very difficult in this system (much more difficult that ‘vote for the biggest Remain party’). You’d have to believe the polls and ignore the results of the last time we had European elections.

We also have to remember that this isn’t a referendum, the people you elect will have to serve in the European parliament, and they will have little or no ability to stop Brexit.

So, essentially, I’m saying, research the candidates in your region, research the polls of your region (although how much you trust them and the tactiucal voting sites that rely on them is up to you), possibly visit one of the reputable tactical voting sites (not one of the Lib Dem fronts posing as tactical voting sites), but make sure you try and elect people you want representing you.

So, I’m voting Green for a number of reasons: they are the only party vocally defending freedom of movement, we already have a Green MEP in my region, and don’t want to lose them, we’re in the middle of a climate crisis and they seem to be the only party willing to address it.

REMEMBER: The most important thing you can do to increase the number of Remain MEPs is to get people out to vote. Getting someone who’s never voted in European elections before into the polling booth today is more important and effective than trying to second-guess the polls.