European Parliament election, 2004 (United Kingdom)

United Kingdom European Parliament election, 2004
United Kingdom
10 June 2004

All 78 of the United Kingdom's seats
in the European Parliament
Turnout 38.2% [1] Increase 14.2%
  First party Second party
Leader Michael Howard Tony Blair
Party Conservative Labour
Alliance EPP–ED PES
Leader since 6 November 2003 21 July 1994
Last election 36 seats, 35.77% 29 seats, 28.03%
Seats won 27 19
Seat change Decrease 8* Decrease 6*
Popular vote 4,397,090 3,718,683
Percentage 26.7% 22.6%
Swing Decrease 9% Decrease 5.4%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Roger Knapman Charles Kennedy
Party UKIP Liberal Democrat
Alliance ID ALDE
Leader since 5 October 2002 9 August 1999
Last election 3 seats, 6.96% 10 seats, 11.9%
Seats won 12 12
Seat change Increase 10* Increase 2*
Popular vote 2,650,768 2,452,327
Percentage 16.1% 14.9%
Swing Increase 9.2% Increase 2.3%

Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the results tables

*Seat change has been adjusted to allow for direct comparison with the results from the 1999 election.[2]

Leader of Largest Party before election

Michael Howard

Subsequent Leader of Largest Party

Michael Howard

The European Parliament election, 2004 was the United Kingdom's part of the wider European Parliament election, 2004 which was held between 10 and 13 June 2004 in the 25 member states of the European Union. The United Kingdom's part of this election was held on Thursday 10 June 2004. The election also coincided with the 2004 local elections and the London Assembly and mayoral elections. In total, 78 Members of the European Parliament were elected from the United Kingdom using proportional representation.

The Conservative Party and the Labour Party both polled poorly. The Conservatives experienced their lowest vote share in a national election since 1832, and Labour their lowest since 1918. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) saw a large increase in support, increasing its number of MEPs from 3 to 12 and on popular vote pushed the Liberal Democrats, who themselves had increased their representation from 10 to 12 seats into fourth place. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin beat the SDLP in the polls and took its first Northern Ireland seat.


Electoral system

The United Kingdom elected 78 Members of the European Parliament using proportional representation. The United Kingdom was divided into twelve multi-member constituencies. The eleven of these regions which form Great Britain used a closed-list party list system method of proportional representation, calculated using the D'Hondt method. Northern Ireland used the Single Transferable Vote (STV). As a consequence of the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the number of seats allocated to the United Kingdom was fewer than in 1999.

It was the first European election to be held in the United Kingdom using postal-only voting in four areas: the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and East Midlands regions.[3]

Regional seat allocations

A combination of the effects of the Treaty of Nice and the 2004 enlargement of the European Union meant that the number of seats allocated to the United Kingdom for the 2004 election was reduced from the 87 MEPs allocated for the 1999 election to 78 MEPs.[4][5]

As a result of the successful challenge of Matthews v United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights in 1999[6] residents of Gibraltar, voted in the European Parliament election for the first time, as part of the South West England region.[7]

Changes in regional seat allocations[8]

in 1999
in 2004
Net Gain/Loss
East Midlands 6 6 0
East of England 8 7 -1
London 10 9 -1
North East England 4 3 -1
North West England 10 9 -1
Northern Ireland 3 3 0
Scotland 8 7 -1
South East England 11 10 -1
South West England1 7 7 0
Wales 5 4 -1
West Midlands 8 7 -1
Yorkshire and the Humber 7 6 -1
Overall 87 78 -9

1 Includes Gibraltar, the only British overseas territory which is part of the EU.


Great Britain

Map showing most popular party by counting area (in Great Britain).

Turnout for all the regions was 37.6% on an electorate of 45,309,760. The Conservatives and Labour both polled poorly. The Conservatives, although getting a vote share 4.1% greater than Labour, experienced their lowest vote share in a national election since 1832. Labour's vote share was its lowest since 1918. Labour's decline in votes was regarded as being largely due to widespread public dissatisfaction about the Iraq War and, as with the Conservatives, the increased popularity of UKIP. UKIP saw a large increase in support, increasing its number of MEPs from 3 to 12, drawing level with the Liberal Democrats, who themselves had increased their representation from 10 to 12 seats. UKIP polled higher than the Liberal Democrats and pushing them into fourth place.

Turnout was lowest in Scotland, which did not hold local elections on the same day. In Scotland, Labour topped the poll, followed by the SNP. The Conservative Party's share of the vote declined by 2 percent, making it the region with the smallest swing against them.[8]

Wales was the only region were Labour increased its share of the vote compared to 1999. The Conservatives managed to make gains pushing Plaid Cymru into third and whose share of the vote fell by 12 percentage points relative to 1999. Similarly UKIP narrowly beat the Liberal Democrats into fourth place. Wales was the region were the Green Party polled their lowest share of the vote.[8]

Summary of the election results for Great Britain[2]

Party Votes % Change Seats Change Seats %
Conservative 4,397,090 26.7 -9.0 27 -8 36.0
Labour 3,718,683 22.6 -5.4 19 -6 25.3
UKIP 2,650,768 16.1 +9.2 12 +10 16.0
Liberal Democrat 2,452,327 14.9 +2.3 12 +2 16.0
Green 1,033,093 6.3 0.0 2 0 2.7
BNP 808,200 4.9 +3.9 0 0 0
Respect 252,252 1.5 +1.5 0 0 0
SNP 231,505 1.4 -1.3 2 0 2.7
Plaid Cymru 159,888 1.0 -0.9 1 0 1.3
English Democrat 130,056
Liberal 96,325
Scottish Green 79,695
Scottish Socialist 61,356
Christian Peoples 56,771
Senior Citizens 42,861
Countryside Party 42,107
Pensioners 33,501
Christian Vote 21,056
ProLife Alliance 20,393
Forward Wales 17,280
Alliance for Green Socialism 13,776
Peace 12,572
Total 17,028,947 100 75 -2 100
All parties with over 10,000 votes listed.


Gibraltar participated in the United Kingdom's election for the first time in 2004 as part of the South West England constituency. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory (BOT) and therefore is under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom but does not form part of it.[9] Gibraltar is however part of the EU, the only BOT to be so. Following however, the result of the successful challenge of Matthews v United Kingdom before the European Court of Human Rights in 1999[6] residents of Gibraltar were given the right to vote in the European Parliament elections. The British government decided not to give Gibraltar its own seat due to its small electorate of just over 20,000 which would have meant with just one seat Gibraltar would have been over-represented by about 30 times the average.[7]

None of the main Gibraltar political parties contested the election, so voters chose from United Kingdom party lists. However, Lyana Armstrong-Emery of Gibraltar's Reform Party had a place on a joint list with the Green Party. In addition both the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, and his deputy, Michael Ancram, campaigned in Gibraltar.[10]

Turnout in Gibraltar was 57.5%, higher than the 37.6% for the South West England electoral region as a whole.[11] The Conservative Party polled over two-thirds of the Gibraltar vote, with no other party exceeding 10% support.

Northern Ireland

Turnout in Northern Ireland was 51.2%.[12] Sinn Féin beat the SDLP in the polls and took its first Northern Ireland seat. Sinn Féin also won a seat in the corresponding elections in the Republic of Ireland.[13] Sinn Féin and the DUP increased their shares of the vote relative to the 1999 European Parliament elections, while the shares for both the SDLP and the UUP fell.[8] This was also the final election in which a Unionist candidate topped the poll in Northern Ireland.[14] Jim Allister of the DUP and Bairbre de Bruin of Sinn Féin were elected in the first round while Jim Nicholson of the UUP was elected in the third stage, after the votes of the other candidates were reallocated.[8]

Summary of the election results for Northern Ireland[15]

Party Candidate(s) Seats Loss/Gain First Preference Votes
Number % of vote
DUP Jim Allister10175,76131.9
Sinn Féin Bairbre de Brún1+1144,54126.3
UUP Jim Nicholson1091,16416.6
SDLP Martin Morgan0-187,55915.9
Independent John Gilliland0036,2706.6
Socialist Environmental Eamon McCann009,1721.6
Green (NI) Lindsay Whitcroft004,8100.9
Turnout 51.2%[12]

MEPs defeated



Plaid Cymru


Both Tony Blair and Michael Howard faced criticism for their results with then Secretary of State for Health John Reid calling the results "disappointing" for Labour and "disastrous" for the Conservatives.[19]

Shortly after the election UKIP's Robert Kilroy-Silk, who was credited with raising the profile of the party during the election, was interviewed by Channel 4 television about leadership ambitions, Kilroy-Silk did not deny having ambitions to lead the party, but stressed that Roger Knapman would lead it into the next general election. However, the next day, on Breakfast with Frost, he criticised Knapman's leadership.[20] After further disagreement with the leadership, Kilroy-Silk resigned the UKIP whip in the European Parliament on 27 October 2004.[21] Initially, he remained a member, while seeking a bid for the party leadership.[22] However, this was not successful and he resigned completely from UKIP on 20 January 2005, calling it a "joke"[23] Two weeks later, he founded his own party, Veritas, taking a number of UKIP members, including both of the London Assembly members, with him.[24]

UKIP formed a new European Parliament Group, Independence/Democracy which was co-chaired by Nigel Farage and Hanne Dahl.

See also


  1. "Turnout at the European elections (1979-2009)". European Parliament. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  2. 1 2 "European Election: United Kingdom Result". BBC News. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  3. Research Paper 04/50 European Parliament elections 2004, House of Commons Library, 23 June 2004
  4. "Treaty of Nice: The other institutions and bodies of the Union". Europa. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  5. "Changes in the distribution of seats in the European Parliament". Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  6. 1 2 Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights: Matthews v the United Kingdom
  7. 1 2 "Court upholds Rock voting rights". BBC News. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 Research Paper 04/50 European Parliament elections 2004, House of Commons Library, 23 June 2004, p. 8
  9. The 14 Territories
  10. Wilkinson, Isambard (18 May 2004). "The Tories won't let you down, Howard tells Gibraltar". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 September 2008.
  11. Reyes, Brian (8 June 2009). "Landslide for Tories Disappointment for Labour". Gibraltar Chronicle. Archived from the original on 10 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-08. ()
  12. 1 2 "European Election: Northern Ireland Result". BBC News. 14 June 2004. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  13. "Vote further polarises Ulster politics". the Guardian. 15 June 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  14. "DUP's worst ever Euro poll result". BBC News. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  15. The 2004 European Election
  16. "Democracy Live Brian Simpson MEP". BBC. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  17. "MEP profiles - Jacqueline Foster". European Parliament. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  18. "Conservative MEPs salute Lord Bethell on his retirement as an MEP & welcome his successor, Ian Twinn". Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  19. "Leaders meet MPs over EU results". BBC News. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  20. "Kilroy-Silk wants UKIP leadership", Daily Telegraph, 3 October 2004
  21. "Kilroy quits UKIP group of MEPs". BBC News. 27 October 2004.
  22. "Kilroy resigns Ukip whip". Guardian online. 7 October 2004.
  23. "Kilroy-Silk quits shameful UKIP". BBC News. 21 January 2005.
  24. "UKIP on the London Assembly? What Farage and the Politics Show didn't say…". MayorWatch. 23 March 2011.

External links

Manifestos and documents

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