Estonia extra MEP seat postponed till Brexit, at least October 31

EU and UK flags.
EU and UK flags. Source: Reuters/Scanpix

The number of seats in the European Parliament is to be reduced from 751 to 705, after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, currently scheduled for Oct. 31.

The move will give Estonia one more MEP mandate, something which was announced last year but put on ice when outgoing U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May (Conservative) was unable to get her E.U. withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons earlier this year. The U.K. was originally scheduled to leave on March 29.

Not all of the U.K.'s 74 MEP seats will be redistributed, and thus not all of the remaining E.U. 27 will get extra seats. For instance, neither of the other two Baltic States, Latvia and Lithuania, will get any extra mandates, though Estonia's neighbor to the north, Finland, will get one, bringing its total to 14 seats, BNS reports.

Other countries to benefit from the post-Brexit windfall include France and Spain (five extra seats), Italy and the Netherlands (three seats) and Ireland (two seats).

Seats are broadly distributed in line with population, with Germany having the highest number at 96 (which remains unchanged after any U.K. withdrawal).

The U.K. is thus likely to be contesting its last European Parliamentary elections, where the two main parties, the governmental Conservative Party, and the opposition Labour Party, are expected to do particularly badly, as they had done at the recent local elections. A major factor has been perceived disunity within the two parties on the issue of Britain leaving the E.U., which leaves two other parties, the Liberal Democrats, as the clear "remain" party, and the newly-formed Brexit party as the clear "leave" party, projected to make inroads. The Conservative government in the U.K. is propped up by the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is pro-leave.

That Estonia failed to get one extra MEP seat at Sunday's election is widely thought to have potentially cost Isamaa a seat, for its number one candidate, Riho Terras, or alternatively former Reform Party MEP Igor Gräzin, running for the Centre Party this time. Terras would only likely get a seat if the predicted Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) seat failed to materialize, or, less likely, at the expense of one of the Reform Party or the Social Democratic Party's (SDE) projected two seats.

Polls are closing in Estonia at press time, 8 p.m.. However, the results, including the e-vote, cannot be announced until all the member states' polls have closed. Since voting in Italy continues until 11 p.m. local time (midnight in Estonia) the results cannot be announced ahead of that.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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