Monday 30 December 2013

Why UKIP will win the European Elections in 2014

The elections to the European parliament couldn't come at a worse time for mainstream political parties. Whilst the Labour Party under Miliband are desperately trying to move the public debate to the 'cost of living', the coalition parties would like to glow about their economic track record as the first green shoots are beginning to spring.

Europe however is the white elephant in the room and neither Labour nor the Conservatives can hope to gain anything from the coming European elections in 2014. The only party that is bound to shine is UKIP, the strongly anti-European party that has consistently made the case about the drawbacks of European integration.

In the best of moods - Nigel Farage
Many pundits predict that UKIP will win most votes and emerge as the strongest party. As Europe is gripped in anti-European rhetoric from left to right, the next European parliament looks going to be an interesting one with anti-European parties making up a substantial minority.

The fascinating aspect of UKIP's rise however is the paradox that fuels its potential electoral success. UKIP's mantra has been that Europe has become the predominant (undemocratic) force in the lives of British people. The reason many Brits will vote for UKIP rests exactly on the opposite calculation. Many British feel that they are free to vote for the 'Kippers' exactly because their vote is so ineffectual. Few people in this country care (and I cannot blame them) who represents them in a Brussel's parliament that resembles more a talking shop than a properly legitimated legislature.

The main reason is that, contrary to life on the continent, Europe is far away from the British way of life, and seen more as a nuisance than a benefit. That's partly because Britain is an island but it is also because it is only partially integrated into the European treaties. Anybody who has gone recently through British immigration when coming off a plane can attest to the strange feeling, that Britain is somehow part but not quite inside the EU. What is missing is the 'lived experience' of Europe as it presents itself on the continent, from missing borders to integrated local services in the heart of Europe.

Paradoxically, that's the source of UKIP's electoral chances. Despite Farage's rhetoric, it is the irrelevance of Europe, its undemocratic institutions and its clownish 'president' Van Rompuy that makes the European Elections in 2014 the perfect target for voters who want to send a signal to all established political parties.

The dim lights of Europe - Van Rompuy and Ashton

So, I am convinced that UKIP will win the European Elections, just as it will sink without a trace again in the General Elections in 2015.

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