11 April 2014

“Wondering how to vote in European elections in May?” ask Churches

Churches are urging people to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections in May. 

The Methodist Church in Britain, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have produced a document outlining important issues for the election with the aim of boosting turnout and encouraging people to reflect on their vote. Only a third of voters participated in the 2009 European elections, compared to two thirds who voted in the 2010 General Election. 

The Churches' briefing illustrates how the European Parliament affects all our lives. "European laws affect things such as energy security, immigration and justice," the document states. "MEPs have an important job to do in shaping the laws of the society we live in and it is important to remember that these elections are for people to represent us in the European Parliament and not an opinion poll on the EU, or a warm up for the next General Election."

EU and human rights, migration, climate change, proportional representation, tax justice, the financial crisis and whether Britain should remain in the EU are some of the issues discussed in the briefing document. The guide also gives advice on how to organise a hustings' event and explains how the European Parliament and European Union work.

Andrew Bradstock, Secretary for Church and Society with the United Reformed Church, said: "This document sets out clearly why this election is important, and I urge churches and church members, as strongly as I can, to read it and then go out and vote. As people called to be good citizens, Christians should treat all opportunities to vote seriously, and there are hugely important issues at stake this time. We can hardly complain if people and parties we don't like get elected and we didn't vote."

James North, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, said: "Living in a democracy as disciples of Jesus, we are called to discern whether there are policies that better accord with the love that God wishes us to share in our communities, and to decide how to vote on that basis. Naturally, this briefing does not support a particular party programme. Whilst no political programme can be equated with the coming kingdom of God, Christians are called to engage with the political process and parties' manifestos to seek justice, transformation and love of our neighbour."

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