Lots of things I hear about the EU leave me thinking, “that’s not very good”, here’s one of those things:
In France, today, the population is 66.9 Million [Google]. This boils into an electorate of around 47.3M [ElectionGuide.org]. France currently has 74 seats in the European Parliament [Google]. The European Parliament is important, since it’s the only thing we European citizens cast our votes for. This institution should be the source for every power European, at least in my mind, and should itself be comprised fairly. So, let’s summarise:
|Number of seats in the European Parliament||74|
|Number of people per seat||904,054.05|
|Number of electors per seat||639,095.99|
Those two last rows are simple divisions of the numbers, I haven’t introduced any new numbers. This is all fair enough, France’s number of delegates is in line (using either population or electorate) with somebody like the UK, which has a slightly smaller population/electorate than France, and 73 seats.
But let’s look at Malta. Here’s that same table:
|Number of seats in the European Parliament||6|
|Number of people per seat||72,824.50|
|Number of electors per seat||56,976.00|
My sources here are Google and Wikipedia. You should be able to see it from comparing the two tables, but I’ll just state it for clarity:
|Seats per person (Malta) vs. Seats per Person (France)||12.41|
|Seats per elector (Malta) vs. Seats per elector (France)||11.22|
So, again just to be explicit, a Maltese person’s voice is more than ten times as loud as a French person’s. I have to say I’m in no way being critical of Malta here – it’s really up to negotiators to secure the best deal they can, so good on them. My only criticism might be that they could have pointed out that they have a disproportionate number of MEPs, but why would someone put fairness above their self-interest? And that’s my problem, or one of them. To be explicit for the last time, I expect the ratio to be somewhat nearer to one. Okay, I can live with some small variation, because France is a comparatively large country, and Malta a very small country, but a ratio of 10 is not fair. All countries should have about the same number of representatives, per capita.
Then you get to the method used by each of the countries to elect their MEPs, where again, my support is qualified. You’ll pick up from other posts the need to be careful to design a fair PR system, and certainly until John Prescott changed the UK system, our first-past-the-post was less fair still. But all of this might be the subject of another post.
I don’t particularly wish to make further capital out of this, really it’s down to you to digest these numbers and decide whether they’re fair or not, but be aware that these numbers are one of the reasons why I’m happy to walk away from the EU. I have a lot of sympathy with my continental friends, who will readily say that the EU might be imperfect, but there’s no way they can contemplate living without it, but I’m less forgiving. I’m quite happy to live without it.