Greens upbeat on election success

THE Green Party is confident it can win a seat to the European Parliament in the East of England, even though the number of Euro MPs for the six counties is likely to be cut to seven.

By Graham Dines

THE Green Party is confident it can win a seat to the European Parliament in the East of England, even though the number of Euro MPs for the six counties is likely to be cut to seven.

It has chosen a slate of eight candidates, headed by Margaret Wright of Cambridge, to try to win a seat in the region. Five years ago, the party won 6.2% under the closed list system of proportional representation used for European elections. This was 2.6% less than the threshold needed to get an MEP elected.

In next June's elections, the East of England – Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire – is almost certain to see its entitlement cut to seven MPs, raising the threshold and making it even harder for minor party candidates to be elected.


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James Abbott, the Green Party's press officer who is on the slate of candidates, said the party was optimistic it could force a breakthrough. "The 2003 local election results point to a rise in Green support that could well achieve the 10% or more level needed to win the seventh seat.

"Voters back the Greens far more strongly in the European elections than in Westminster elections. In 1999, the Greens secured over 61,000 votes in Eastern Region, more than all the minor parties put together. Depending on turnout, a rise to around 100,000 votes could well elect Margaret Wright as the first Green MEP for Eastern Region."

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The number of British MEPs is being reduced from 87 to make way for Euro MPs from the 10 new nations for eastern Europe, which are joining the European Union next years.

The Greens have chosen eight candidates, the last on the list acting as a reserve in case any of the others have to withdraw.

Candidates are: Margaret Wright, of Cambridge, lead candidate for the 1999 European elections; Adrian Ramsay, a Norwich city councillor, who is the national party's spokesman on planning and economic development; James Abbott, a Braintree council, who is the who is the national policy adviser on space issues; Marc Scheimann, a computer consultant based in Luton; Ingo Wagenknecht, a stonemason from Norfolk; Steve Rackett, a Watford councillor; Stephen Lawrence, a music teacher from Cambridge; Lydia Howitt, who lives in Hertfordshire where she has built an eco-house.

Three hustings meetings were held across the region to give Green Party members the opportunity to question potential candidates Voting was by single transferable vote with computer software used for counting.

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