AFTER months of preparation, weeks of campaigning and thousands of leaflets being handed out, election day is finally here.
Across the south millions of people will head to the polls today to elect councillors and European MPs.
People in Hampshire have the chance to vote for ten MEPs who will represent the region in Brussels for the next five years.
Much of the focus in the runup to the election has been on the UK’s place in the European Union (EU) and the impact of immigration, with a number of Eurosceptic parties standing in the elections calling for the country to pull out.
On the other side of the argument, other parties have been arguing that the UK’s place in the EU safeguards millions of jobs, including thousands in Hampshire.
Councillors will also be elected in Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester, Fareham and Gosport.
It is unlikely that the elections will lead to a change in administration in four of those authorities – but there are a number of fascinating subplots that will be played out tonight.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are vying for control of Winchester City Council, with both parties currently having 27 seats.
In Southampton the leaders of all four political parties, including current Labour council leader Simon Letts and Conservative opposition leader Royston Smith, could find themselves voted out by the electorate.
And in both Eastleigh and Southampton, many eyes will be on how UKIP fare.
The anti-EU party is looking to build on strong showings in the Eastleigh parliamentary by-election, Woolston city council by-election and Hampshire County Council elections last year and win its first seats on either authority.
Who is up for election?
THERE are 118 candidates in 15
parties standing for election in the
The region has ten MEPs, the most of
any region in the UK, who sit in the
European Parliament in Brussels.
Their responsibilities include electing
a new European President and voting,
amending or rejecting legislation,
including the EU’s $1.2trillion budget.
Currently the South East has five
Conservative MEPs, including one who
defected from UKIP, two Liberal
Democrats and one MEP each for
Labour, UKIP and the Green Party.
ONE third of city council seats in
Southampton are up for grabs, along
with a second seat in Millbrook after
the resignation of Labour’s Georgie
There are eight Labour, six
Conservative, two Liberal Democrat
and one Independent seats up for
The ruling Labour party currently has
a majority of 11, meaning a change in
power is possible but unlikely.
THERE are 15 seats, or one third of the
council, up for re-election today.
With the Liberal Democrats making
up 39 of the council’s 44 seats, the
balance of power will not be changed
But with 12 of the party’s seats up
for election, opposition parties will be
hoping to loosen the Lib Dems’ grip on
power in the borough.
THE balance of power is finely poised
in the battle for control of Winchester
The Conservatives, ruling as a
minority administration, currently have
27 seats, the same as the Liberal
Democrats after the defection of two
And with a third of seats available,
the Tories are defending ten seats to
the Lib Dems’ nine.
SIMILARLY to Eastleigh, the elections
of half of councillors at Fareham
Borough Council will not result in a
change of administration.
The ruling Conservative group
currently has 23 councillors to the
Liberal Democrats’ six and two
But opposition groups will hope to
eat into that majority, with the Tories
defending 12 seats to the Lib Dems’
three and one Independent.
HALF of the council’s seats are up for
grabs, with the Conservatives hoping
to hold onto their hefty majority.
The party currently has 24 seats,
with the Liberal Democrats and Labour
having five each.
Twelve Conservative seats are being
defended, to three Lib Dem seats and