Final vote-counts on Sunday night showed a huge victory for the U.K.’s new anti-establishment party, which gained almost 30 percent of the ballot and 24 out of 73 U.K. seats in the pan-European parliament.
The established right-of-center and left-of Conservative Party (also called the tory party) and Labour Party won only 19 and 20 seats, respectively, amid a wave of public opposition to large-scale immigration and the growing power of the European parliament.
The upper-income progressive party, the Liberal Democrats, lost all but one of its 12 seats in the European parliament.
UKIP’s charismatic leader, Nigel Farage, gloated about his party’s success. “Never before in the history of British politics has a party seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election,” he said.
Voters had “delivered about the most extraordinary result that has been seen in British politics for 100 years and I am proud to have led them to that.”
Elections for the U.K.‘s parliament are due next year, and the party may “hold the balance of power in another hung parliament,” said Farage, whose party was created in 1993.
The demand for national self-government and lower immigration was seen in several European countries, where various nationalist parties with right-of-center or left-of-center economic policies gained votes at the expense of establishment parties.
The European-wide wave parallels the constitution-minded tea party movement in the United States, which opposes “crony-capitalism” in Washington D.C., and the push by progressives and business groups to double the annual inflow of legal immigrants and guest workers up to roughly 4 million per year. That inflow would be roughly equal to the number of American youths who turn 18 each year, and would drastically increase the labor supply, amid a slack economy, a shrinking middle-class, increasing automation, and flat wages.
In France, the economically left-of-center National Front party took 25 percent of the vote, while the governing Socialist Party won only 14 percent of the vote. In Greece and Germany, left-wing and right wing parties gained votes from the establishment parties that support a centralized European government.
In Denmark, the right-wing Danish People’s Party beat its establishment rivals, with 23 percent of the vote only 19 years after it was formed in 1995.
By British standards, the UKIP’s economic and health-care policies are moderately right of center. “UKIP is a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first. Only UKIP will return self-government to the British people,” said the party’s web page.
However, Farage and his party must reassure voters prior to the 2015 parliamentary election that they can be trusted in parliament. The party needs to keep more than 15 percent of the vote to influence the outcome of British’s multi-party electoral system.
A new poll shows UKIP winning 18 percent of the parliamentary vote, and taking enough votes from the Conservative Party to ensure a win for the Labour Party in 2015. The poll said Labour would get 41 percent of the vote, while the Tories (the nickname for the Conservatives) would be stuck with 29 percent of the vote — and 83 of their legislators would lose their seats.
The party that gets 40 percent of the popular vote usually wins enough legislative seats to form a majority in the 650-seat parliament.
If UKIP maintains 15 percent of the vote, it can likely tip the election’s results for or against either of the main parties.
The party’s success came amid furious criticism from the establishment media and parties. In 2006, for example, the Tory party’s leader, David Cameron, derided UKIP’s supporters as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly.”
But Cameron’s party lost a large share of its votes to UKIP as immigration escalated year-by-year — spurring competition for jobs, housing and education services. In local government results announced late last week, UKIP gained at least 157 seats while the Conservative Party lost 201 seats. UKIP, however, also pulled significant support from the Labour Party, which gained far fewer seats in the local elections than expected.