An Aberdeen academic has told of the importance of voting in the EU elections despite Brexit uncertainty.
Aberdeen University politics lecturer Dr Malcolm Harvey said it is important to vote in the poll on Thursday despite plans for the UK to leave the EU by October.
The UK Government has negotiated an agreement with the 27 other EU nations to leave the political alliance by October 31, an extension from the initial date of March 29.
Dr Harvey said: “From a technical point of view, we won’t leave the EU before the start of the next parliamentary term on July 2.
“If we’re still members of the European Union we have to have representation in Brussels.
“How long they’ll be representing the UK at the European Parliament is the thing we don’t know at the moment.
“I think it’s always important to turn out and vote.
“We’re in this situation because the public were given their say in the referendum, so I think it’s important that they get out and vote for parties they agree with.”
The electoral system in use for EU elections differs from that of the Westminster votes in the UK.
Dubbed the D’Hondt method, it sees parties create a ranked list of candidates who will then be selected based on the number of votes cast for each party.
Dr Harvey believes the system makes it easier for individuals to vote for those they support, as opposed to voting against those they disagree with.
He said: “In that regard, it’s hugely important that people use their vote on Thursday and show their support for the parties and issues that they agree with, as opposed to having to vote purely in a tactical way. In a democratic sense, that’s really important.”
Polls open on Thursday across the UK, with the official counts conducted and the results to be announced on Sunday.
Residents of the north-east will be able to cast their votes to fill one of the six MEP seats which represent Scotland.
The delay is down to voting not due to conclude in other European countries until Sunday.
Dr Harvey believes engagement with the Brexit debate could see more people coming forward to vote in the usually poorly attended EU elections.
He said: “We’re a little bit in the dark on this until Thursday, but I think there’s a chance people could be more engaged with the issues being voted on in this election.
“But on the other hand there’s also the chance that people could simply be sick and tired of the whole argument.”
Dr Harvey said: “One thing that’s been pretty clear from the polls is that Labour and the Conservatives are going to take a real hit in this election.
“It looks like Labour might get either one or none of the seats in Scotland and the Tories will not get any.
“We’re also looking at what will probably be a really good performance for the Brexit Party, who could wind up as the second-biggest party in Scotland behind the SNP.”
Anthony Salamone, a research fellow at the Scottish Centre on European Relations, told the Evening Express the outcome of the elections will send a message to other EU nations about the thinking inside Scotland.
He said: “The extent to which pro-EU parties do well in Scotland in these elections will certainly send a strong message about what Scotland thinks about Europe.
“So, for instance, if there’s a big contingent of pro-Europe MEPs elected then that demonstrates the outlook on the EU from people in Scotland is very different from those in the rest of the UK,” he added.