Three polls equal 'Super Thursday'

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Indy Politics

Today, which has been labelled Super Thursday, is the biggest test of public opinion between the last general election and the next.

Today, which has been labelled Super Thursday, is the biggest test of public opinion between the last general election and the next.

Voting takes place in 144 of the 387 local authorities in England, with 4,807 of the country's 19,727 council seats being contested. In Wales, all 1,264 seats on the 22 councils are being fought. There are no local elections in Scotland this year.

The only nationwide contest takes place for the European Parliament. The United Kingdom will elect 78 MEPs, down from 87 at the last European election five years ago, following last month's expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 members. Voting takes place by proportional representation based on a party list system, rather than votes for individual candidates. The number of seats that a party wins depends on its share of the vote in each of the 12 regions-- nine in England, plus Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Five years ago the Tories won 36 seats, Labour 29, the Liberal Democrats 10, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) three, the Green Party two, the Scottish National Party two and Plaid Cymru two. In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists, Ulster Unionists and Social Democratic and Labour Party each won one seat.

With the number of seats being cut, attention will focus on the parties' share of the vote when the results are announced on Sunday night after the rest of Europe has finished voting. In 1999, the Tories won 36 per cent, Labour 28, the Liberal Democrats 13, UKIP 7 and the Greens 6.

In addition, there are elections for the Mayor of London and the 25-member London Assembly. Four years ago Ken Livingstone won the mayor's post as an independent but he has now returned to the Labour Party. Labour and the Tories both won nine seats in the assembly, the Liberal Democrats four and the Greens three.

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