Hands up who wants to vote for the European Parliament?

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Image caption The possibility the UK may remain in the EU for only a short time after the elections makes no difference

Bowing to the inevitable

It was the Government's acknowledgement earlier this month that Parliament would not have agreed the withdrawal deal before this Thursday that confirmed the inevitable. For good or ill, polling will indeed have to go ahead in order to validate the new Parliament for the EU as a whole.

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Image caption A British tradition means elections in the UK are normally held on Thursdays

So, deep breath, here's how it works...

Even though there is nothing sacrosanct about Thursdays being polling days, this is just one of many British traditions which mark us out from everywhere else in Europe except the Netherlands. Sunday is polling day in the rest of the EU.

That's why we go into a strange kind of suspended animation.

After votes have been cast on the Thursday they will be held, securely we hope, until counting begins on Sunday 26 May.

But no results will be declared until 22:00 BST, after polls close around the rest of the EU.

Image caption The PM's de facto deputy David Lidington says the UK will have to fight these European elections

Unlike our own parliamentary elections in which each constituency elects one MP, the West Midlands is one single giant constituency with no fewer than seven MEPs, each of whom represents every area in the region comprising Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands metropolitan area.

Each party compiles a "closed list" of candidates named in a ranking order from one to seven. When nominations closed two weeks ago, the following candidates had been nominated:

BREXIT PARTY

  • Rupert Lowe
  • Martin Daubney
  • Andrew England Kerr
  • Vishal Khatri
  • Nikki Page
  • Laura Kevehazi
  • Katherine Harborne

CHANGE UK

  • Stephen Dorrell
  • Charlotte Gath
  • Pete Wilding
  • Amrik Kandola
  • Joanna McKenna
  • Victor Odusanya
  • Lucinda Empson

CONSERVATIVE

  • Anthea McIntyre
  • Daniel Dalton
  • Suzanne Webb
  • Meiron Jenkins
  • Alex Phillips
  • Mary Noone
  • Ahmed Ejaz

GREEN

  • Ellie Chowns
  • Diana Toynbee
  • Paul Whitehead
  • Julian Dean
  • Louis Stephen
  • Helen Heathfield
  • Kefentse Dennis

LABOUR

  • Neena Gill
  • Sion Simon
  • Julia Buckley
  • Ansar Khan
  • Zarah Sultana
  • Sam Hennessey
  • Liz Clements

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

  • Phil Bennion
  • Ade Adeyemo
  • Jeannie Falconer
  • Jenny Wilkinson
  • Jennifer Gray
  • Beverley Nielsen
  • Lee Dargue

UKIP

  • Ernie Warrender
  • Paul Williams
  • Graham Eardley
  • Paul Allen
  • Nigel Ely
  • Joe Smyth
  • Derek Bennett

The ballot paper will list each of the candidates under their respective parties' names.

Each elector should vote only once, with an X indicating the party list of their choice.

So what d'heck is d'Hondt?

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Image caption Two new parties, the Brexit Party and Change UK, will contest these elections

If you don't know now you soon will. For a start, it's 'who' rather than 'what'.

Viktor d'Hondt was a Belgian lawyer and mathematician who died 118 years ago, little knowing he had invented the arithmetical formula by which MEPs are elected.

Purists debate whether or not it's true "proportional representation" at all.

But it's the system we have, so here's how it works.

In the first round of counting, the party with the most votes wins a seat for the candidate at the top of its list.

In the second round of counting, the winning party's vote is divided by two, and whichever party comes out on top in the reordered results wins a seat for its top candidate.

The process repeats itself, with the original vote of the winning party in each round being divided by one plus their running total of MEPs, until all seven seats have been taken.

Is that perfectly clear?

No?

It's as brief as I can make it: Albert Einstein famously remarked: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler than that."

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