I’ve not posted about today’s European election before now because it’s outside the general remit of the page. This is a consciously non-party political page – the campaign for independence is a separate one from individual party lines.
But I do want to mention the European parliament election for a reason which is relevant to the independence referendum.
Today, people in Scotland will elect 6 MEPs.
People in Malta will also elect 6 MEPs.
Malta has less than one tenth the population of Scotland, having almost exactly the same number of people as my home city of Edinburgh.
The fact that they elect the same number of MEPs as us isn’t Malta’s fault, of course. They get good representation thanks to the weighting system used for the European Parliament, which, if it didn’t exist, would effectively mean that there’d be no point in the smaller countries having representatives at all.
The people of Germany, by contrast, will elect 96 MEPs. Germany is, by quite some distance, the biggest country, so it should rightly have the most representatives.
With Germany’s population around 80.5 million, this equates to them having roughly one MEP for every 838,789 citizens.
Malta on the other hand, has one MEP for every 70,227 citizens.
It’s a vast difference, but it is necessary to weight the system in such a way.
As mentioned, Scotland, with 5.3 million citizens, has the same number of seats as Malta. 5.3 million people shared between 6 MEPs is just over 883,000 per representative. So we’re not only worse off in ratio terms than Malta, were actually even slightly worse off than Germany. Only France, the second largest EU member state by population, has a slightly worse ratio: 1:886.935.
Now this is because we’re currently part of the UK of course, so we’re counted as being at the heftier end of the list of EU states, population wise.
But so much of our legislation isn’t even made at a UK level – only reserved matters are. Holyrood legislates for a huge part of our lives, yet we’re lumped in with the rest of the UK as a single entity.
As we know from this very independence debate, the Scottish Government is not allowed to approach Europe on its own. Not. Allowed. That’s a preposterous and farcical position for one of our democratically elected governments to find itself in.
Independent countries, with similar population sizes to ours, typically have just over double the number of MEPs representing them:
Denmark, pop. 5.6 million, 13 MEPs
Finland, pop. 5.43 million, 13 MEPs
Ireland, pop. 5.41 million, 13 MEPs
And their governments are directly involved with the EU – not held at arms length, as Holyrood currently is.
If we take all of the EU member states who have 6 MEPs – Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg & Malta – even adding all of their populations together only come out at 3.15 million. We’re losing out big time.
So if you don’t really value democracy, then by all means vote No. Vote No to ignore the people who’ve campaigned to for voting rights through the years, whether that be the right for women to vote or the right for ‘lay people’ to vote.
Vote No to spit in the faces of those who fought to keep Europe free in the 20th century – those who the No camp very much mistakenly believe are only good for their side of this independence debate.
Vote No to keep schtum, to not give a toss about what happens both within and outwith Scotland, to maintain the humble wee squeak of a voice you have now.
Or think with your head and vote Yes.
Yes, I want my vote to count for something.
Yes, I want my parliament to represent the people who actually live here, no matter their background, no matter their voting intention.
Yes, I want the NORMAL amount of representation within the EU, through our elected MEPs and through our proportionally representative parliament.
No matter what party you voted for today, or support at any other election, give yourself that ability in September by simply voting Yes. Yes to enabling a better quality of democracy for yourself and those around you.