People in Wiltshire will shape the future of the next European Parliament by voting at one of 354 polling stations across the county next week.

Roughly 353,774 people are eligible to vote and can choose from eight parties on Thursday. Their choices will be closely scrutinised by politicians gearing up for the 2015 General Election.

The parties to choose from are Conservative, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP, Green Party, BNP, An Independence From Europe and English Democrats.

Wiltshire is represented by the South West constituency, made up of Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gibraltar.

Each party has listed six candidates and of the 48 candidates put forward, six will be elected to represent the South West.

Britain’s membership of the European Union has been heavily debated in Westminster, with Prime Minister David Cameron promising to hold a referendum on the issue.

A televised debate on Europe involving Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and UKIP leader Nigel Farage also attracted national media coverage.

Paul Morris, regional returning officer for the European Election, said this had helped to increase awareness and he expected more people to vote as a result.

He: “I think this year is going to be very interesting following all the national coverage Europe has been given. Often European elections get a little bit forgotten but I don’t think that will be the case this time around.”

Wiltshire Council is expecting a turnout of between 40 to 45 per cent on Thursday. Voting begins at 7am on Thursday, May 22, and finishes at 10pm.

The council will verify papers from 9am on Friday at Malmesbury Leisure Centre, Devizes Leisure Centre, Trowbridge Civic Centre and Salisbury Five Rivers Leisure Centre.

The count will be held at the Christie Miller Leisure Centre in Melksham, on Sunday, May 25, and will start at 2pm, but cannot be declared until the last European country has voted, which will be Italy at 10pm.