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EU elections: churches issue parish resources

 Churches' Parliamentary Officers have prepared a briefing to guide voters through the elections to the European Parliament set for 10 June. Enlargement and the new EU constitutional treaty mean that these elections come at a crucial time and the briefing encourages church members to use their vote. Edited by Rachel Lampard, Secretary for Parliamentary and Political Affairs for the Methodist Church, the briefing is downloadable from the web site of Churches Together and Britain and Ireland at: www.ctbi.org.uk Traditionally at election time, many churches host 'hustings' - public meetings at which the candidates for a constituency answer questions from the voters. The briefing includes guidelines for organizers of these meetings, and encourages them to work ecumenically through local Churches Together groups, or through an inter faith group. CTBI's Co-ordinating Secretary for Church and Society, the Revd John Kennedy said: "This briefing makes some of the crucial points that need to be raised during these important elections. It also explains how the European Parliament works. And most importantly it explains the background to the European Draft Constitution, and the controversy over whether there should be a Referendum or not. "The Churches encourage all members to participate in these elections; this is partly out of a sense of duty, but there is at present an urgent need to ensure that extremist candidates in Europe do not triumph simply because of low turnout,'"he said. As well as explaining the voting system for the elections, the booklet sets out what the European Parliament does. For each major issue the EU covers, the booklet provides background notes, outlines what the parties say and suggests questions to ask candidates. Topics include EU enlargement, agriculture, asylum and immigration, family issues, international development, peace and security and political extremism.