Messages such as “Europe doesn’t work” or “Poll taken during UKIP trip to Bulgaria finds 4 million want to come to Britain” are what are found on opening the United Kingdom Independence Party’s website.
Antonio Capilla Vega
Their logo is a stylised L, which represents the pound sterling together with their party name’s initials. Their name is associated with a play on words, as it is pronounced similar to “you keep”, and its continually developing program is based not only on avoiding not only the euro, but also any regulations from the EU.
For the most moderate stream within the party, the path to follow is to turn into something akin to Norway or Switzerland where the connection with Europe would be limited to certain commercial agreements.
UKIP has had a rocky history. Formed in 1993 after Margaret Thatcher’s fall, as a result of the division which had occurred between the conservatives caused by a disagreement of the definition of the role that Great Britain should play in the heart of the European Union. Since it’s beginning, UKIP has had seven leaders (Jeffrey Titford has been their leader twice, as has the current leader, Nigel Farage), and their attitude has become progressively softer, linked in the early years with movements of the far right.
Their golden age was in the middle of the last decade when in 2004, the year of the European Parliamentary elections, they won the vote of 2.6 million Britons, winning 12 seats in parliament. Just as in 2005, where they won 16% of the local vote.
Nowadays UKIP sends a more moderate message which portrays it as liberal-conservative. The traditional parties have begun to lose touch and Nigel Farage’s charisma gives sufficient reason to foresee a rise of the Eurosceptic force.
Living at a time with the country submerged in its third economic recession and with a relatively high unemployment rate compared to what is normal in the British Isles, UKIP’s call to control immigration could win them votes from the Tories. Equally their message against cuts to social services could drive a wedge between workers and traditional labour groups.
At the moment, the focal point has been fixed on the “threat” that Bulgaria and Romania pose in the short term.
The end of 2013 will see an end to restrictions dictating the ability of European citizens to travel and work in any country within the European Union; a policy which has been taken advantage of to warn of the “invasion” which could come from said countries in Eastern Europe.
On the one hand, the best results that this party have had have been in local and European elections where the level of participation is always lower and parties with a more or less extreme message and a high level of militancy attain a greater representation.
If the party were to obtain support over 7 or 8% in general elections (and the current polls regarding the intention of votes confirm that this is possible) it would be a cause for concern as it would be a show of the strength of the party and also the temptation for parties from across the spectrum to look to form coalitions or sporadic pacts.
On the other hand, the evolution of the economy, as much in the United Kingdom as between our European neighbours, and in particular of unemployment, just as the possible social cuts which are still going to happen could mean that UKIP adopts a more populist stance, gaining votes among sectors outside of what is considered its normal hunting ground.
We will have to be attentive to the evolution of these aspects, such as UKIP’s ability to please sectors which have little in common.
(Translated by Frances Singer – Email: email@example.com)