Much has been made in the media of the election results of the May 2014 European Elections. Obviously the big story was the success of UKIP, gaining 24 seats. However, some brakes do need to be applied to this runaway story – Eurosceptic parties across Europe triumphed in this election so the UK was by no means unique. Equally, turnout was as low as ever at just over 34%, just over half of that of the 2010 General Election. The Conservative and Labour parties still did well, therefore still showing the continuation of the UK’s two most dominant parties. Nationalist parties for the countries making up the United Kingdom also all did well, with the exception of the BNP who were wiped out.
Therefore, the success of UKIP, while clear, must be justified. Discussions over whether this is a protest vote or not cannot be answered until May 2015. Some have pointed to the success of UKIP in recent by-elections; regardless, the odd by-election does not run the risk of altering the balance of the House of Commons and therefore until the results are in next year it is difficult to ascertain how far the UKIP vote is a protest.
The result however is cracking for the Parties topic in Unit 1 as well as the Elections topic – the use of a PR-type system has allowed a much greater proportion of parties, especially national parties, to be represented.