Britain’s newest party is set to become the nation’s most popular, outpacing the nation’s pro-immigration establishment parties, according to polls and initial results from Thursday balloting.
“We are facing a political earthquake,” said one political reporter at a major network.
The UK Independence Party has achieved a “stunning success,” said Lynne Featherstone, a member of parliament for a rival party, and a cabinet minister in the coalition government.
The UKIP’s success is matched by the rise of patriotic or national parties in several other countries, including Denmark, Finland, Sweden and France. It complements the anti-establishment upsurge in the United States, where GOP-linked tea party activists are pushing back against crony capitalism, overreaching government and record levels of immigration.
The initial ballot counts in the U.K. show the UKIP winning roughly 30 percent of the vote in elections for 161 local councils. UKIP’s voters are defectors from both left-wing and right-wing establishment parties. Early media reports also say the UKIP also gained votes from a wave of people who did not vote in prior elections, but did badly in London, where an unusually large proportion of voters are immigrants or wealthy.
The left-wing Labour Party hoped to win many new council seats from the right-of-center Conservative (or “tory”) Party, but instead has won relatively few seats because of defections to UKIP.
By 6:00 p.m. Friday English time, UKIP has gained 134 local seats, while the tory party has lost 132 seats.
“We’ve got to work harder and we’ve got to really deliver on issues that are frustrating people and frustrating me like welfare reform, immigration and making sure that people really benefit from this recovery,” said tory Prime Minister David Cameron.
Vote counting will continue through Sunday, when the winners of the 73 U.K. seats in the European parliament will be announced.
A pre-election poll this week showed that UKIP won support in this election from 27 percent of voters, edging one point ahead of the Labour Party and five points ahead of the Conservatives. The same poll showed that 14 percent of the voters want to vote for UKIP in next year’s parliamentary elections.
Unlike the GOP and the American conservative movement, Britain’s Conservative Party is socially liberal, disdainful of Christianity, and does not wish to shrink the UK’s large central government.
The poll also showed that a left-wing environmental party and an upper-income progressive party won 9 and 10 percent support, respectively. The survey was conducted by a U.K.-based polling firm, YouGov.
UKIP’s support is powered by widespread public dislike of the fast-growing, multi-state government on the European mainland. It is also fueled by alarm over the social conflict and economic turmoil caused by massive multicultural immigration, which was accelerated by the Labour Party in the early 2000s.