05.26.14 9:45 AM ET
'Britain's Tea Party' UKIP Storms To Outright Victory in Euro Elections
He promised an earthquake, and today he delivered.
The British political establishment is on the ropes this morning after the results of the European elections in the UK delivered a hammer blow to all three traditional parties. The right-wing, anti-immigration, anti-European Union UK Independence Party (UKIP) topped the poll, winning more than 27 per cent of the vote, securing 23 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), and representing the first time in over a hundred years that Labour and the Conservatives have been left to battle it out for second place in a national election.
The Liberal Democrats – the traditional ‘third party’ currently in government in coalition with the Conservatives – were nearly wiped out, battling for fifth place against the Greens. The leader and deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is facing renewed calls to step down.
The radical, Tea Party-esque group, which has no MPs in the national Parliament (although that now looks certain to change in next year’s general election) has campaigned on a relentlessly populist message of ‘cracking down’ on immigration.
The results are another huge success for party leader Nigel Farage who was already celebrating an impressive performance in local and council elections last week.
Mr Farage said: “Never before in the history of British politics has a party that will be seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election.
“We have formed the people's army to fight the establishment. I love Europe, it's the European Union I have a problem with.”
UKIP’s victory was part of a far-right resurgence across Europe. France’s far-right National Front – headed by Marine Le Pen - was on course for a massive victory, winning a record share of the vote, although the anti-Islamic Dutch MEP Geert Wilders lost his seat.
However, it should bepointed out that elctorates typically pull to the right during recessions, and that many voters regard the European elections as unimportant - turnout was just 34% int he UK - and therefore they are often seen as a safe place to register a protest vote. The same attitudes may not prevail in a general election.