For the first time in modern history, Labour and Conservatives did not win a British national election. Xenophobic, EU-skeptic, populist UKIP bested them both. Lib Dems got wiped out, Greens came in 4th. Only a very strong vote in London kept Labour from also being trounced.
There’s just no way to spin this as anything but a ginormous upset with long-term ramifications. UKIP is right-wing populist, anti-immigration, anti-Euro – and now a serious political force. I think their appeal is primarily populist. When economies are troubled, and middle and working classes get hammered while banksters loot at will and don’t go to prison, a populist party, no matter how wrong-headed it may be on other issues, will attract votes. This effect will be more pronounced when other parties, as is happening now, studiously avoid such issues.
In a stunning warning to the established political parties, Ukip was on course to win as much as 28% of the national poll. That is a near doubling of the 16.5% it secured in the last European elections in 2009, when it came second to the Tories with 13 seats.
These various parties have nowhere close to majorities. However, in parliamentary governments, majorities rarely happen. Several of them now have the power to be coalition members with influence over policy.