<strong>Q. WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> It is the EU’s only directly elected body. There will be 736 members of the European Parliament (MEPs), of which 72 will come from the UK. <br /><strong><br />Q. WHAT AM I VOTING FOR IN THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> You vote for a party rather than an individual candidate; individuals at the top of the parties’ lists are most likely to get in. Unlike at a general election, which uses a first-past-the-post constituency-based system, proportional representation in the EU election means many smaller parties will gain MEPs. The UK is divided into 12 regions, each represented by a different number of MEPs; most readers will be voting for local party lists in London (8 MEPs), South East (10) and the East of England (7). <br /><br /><strong>Q. DOES VOTING INFLUENCE HOW EUROPEAN LAWS ARE MADE?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> EU laws apply in all 27 member states, and most laws passed by national parliaments are drafted in response to European directives (framework laws that have to be transposed into national law within a certain timescale). The European Parliament also has the power to sack the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union.<br /><br /><strong>Q. WHAT ABOUT THE LOCAL ELECTIONS?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> In 34 local authority areas in England you will also be able to vote for local councillors. You will be given a second ballot paper that will list the names and addresses of all candidates and, underneath, the party they represent.<br /><strong><br />Q. WHAT ARE THE KEY BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE LOCALS?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> Lancashire; Derbyshire; Nottinghamshire; Staffordshire; Bristol; Devon, Cornwall and Somerset; Hastings; Hartlepool mayor and Lincolshire will be looked at closely. If Labur loses control of its remaining county councils to the Tories it will be seen as a disaster. <br /><strong><br />Q. WHEN DO I VOTE?</strong><br /><strong>A. </strong>Today between 7am-10pm. Results for the local elections will be out early Friday and EU results from 9pm on Sunday.