EIGHTY-eight people – including a lone independent – have declared themselves as candidates for the Eastern region in next month s European elections, which will be co-ordinated from Huntingdonshire.

There are seven seats up for grabs in the region and th

EIGHTY-eight people - including a lone independent - have declared themselves as candidates for the Eastern region in next month's European elections, which will be co-ordinated from Huntingdonshire.

There are seven seats up for grabs in the region and the full list of candidates includes none from Huntingdonshire, although the Returning Officer, who is required to see fair play and declare the results for the region, is David Monks, chief executive of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Mr Monks, who is one of Britain's leading experts on electoral law and practice, is joint author of a book that will be used as an electoral Bible by returning officers and electoral registration officers throughout the United Kingdom.

Running Elections 2009 is the fourth updating of the text and the first since changes to the rules were introduced by the Electoral Administration Act 2006.

In the introduction to the book, Mr Monks and co-author Roger Morris say the book is designed to instil confidence that the electoral process is being properly run.

"It goes without saying that having properly-run, free and fair elections is a cornerstone of democracy in any community," they say.

"Running elections is a very personal, and sometimes lonely, responsibility," they tell those running the polls. "Our intention is to help you have the confidence to make your own decisions, as you must, usually within a very unforgiving timetable.

"Even the most experienced returning officer will always be wary, for dangers lurk beneath dark electoral waters - they usually turn out to be sharks, not icebergs."

Advice to returning officers on handling the media was informed by suggestions from The Hunts Post.

Mr Monks, who has been in charge of HDC since 1995, has presided over every Eastern Region Euro poll since then.

The Euro elections will take place on Thursday June 4 to choose the UK's 72 MEPs. The number of MEPs has been reduced from the current 78 as a result of the enlargement of the EU. Elections to the European Parliament are held every five years. The European Parliament was directly elected for the first time in 1979.

Since 1999 voters in Britain have elected MEPs under a proportional representation system. The European Parliamentary Elections Act of that year introduced a regional list system with seats allocated to parties in proportion to their share of the vote.

At the last Euro poll in 2004 the region returned three Conservative, two UK Independence Party, one Labour and one Liberal Democrat MEPs to Strasbourg.

The UK is divided into 12 electoral regions with between three and 10 MEPs representing each region.

The nine English regions will elect 59 MEPs, Scotland will elect six and Wales four. In Northern Ireland three MEPs are elected under its own system of proportional representation.

All 736 MEPs in the European Parliament will be elected under some form of proportional representation.

Although the poll takes place on the Thursday, the count, at the St Ivo Leisure Centre in St Ives, will not take place until Sunday June 6 because the results cannot be declared before the rest of the EU has finished voting. Sunday is the traditional polling day in most EU states.

The Eastern region results will be declared at some time after 9pm BST, following the closure of polling stations in continental Europe at 10pm local time.

Here is the full list of candidates for the East: