It may seem that a ‘Rise of the Right’ is populating Western politics; in an ideological transition that hit its peak with the success of Nigel Farage and his Brexit party at the European Elections on 29th May 2019. Whilst to some it may have seemed frivolous to even be holding these elections, considering Brexit is looming large over our tiny islands future, the results were indicative of the UK’s political climate.
With voter turnout only two percentage points higher than it was in 2014, standing at 36.7%, it may not be a significant enough change to blame on Brexit. Areas such as Bristol and Edinburgh, which had the highest percentage of Remain voters in the 2016 referendum, saw the biggest turn out this election as well. However, what the aftermath of the Brexit referendum can be held responsible for is the dramatic drop in votes received by both the countries dominant parties; Labour and Conservative. Whilst they received only 25% of the overall votes between them, (the worst result either party has ever seen) Conservatives finished the election with only four seats; losing 14.8% of the vote share compared with 2014 whilst Labour finished with 10 seats; losing 11.3% of the vote share since 2014. Whilst this may be blowback from the Conservatives party’s handling of Brexit and Labour’s apparent lack of political stance on the issue, isolating voters from both spectrums of their party, it has paved the way for the breakthrough of minority parties.
The combined votes for ‘leave’ parties totalled 34.9% which adds the 3.3% that went to the UKIP party to the 31.6% achieved by the Brexit party. However, the combined votes for remain parties actually totalled 40.4%- perhaps indicating the UK is now significantly more pro-remain, but definitely ensuring these parties have a larger influence in the European Council. The two Remain parties on the ballot were the Liberal Democrats who won 16 seats, 20% of the votes and a 13.4% increase in the vote share since 2014 and the Green Party who won 7 seats, 12.1% of votes and a 4.2% increase in the vote share. These two parties, who both dedicated strong parts of their manifesto to their anti-Brexit stance, have made huge gains in politics, sending a message to the countries dominant political institutions.
Across the rest of Europe, the Green party became a political force. Holding up 9.19% of the European councils overall make up, for the first time in history, may have Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and perhaps even US Senator Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez loudly speaking out about green issues in American congress to thank. However, with a 51% turnout across the continent; up 10% from 2014, it may be time to argue the case the European issues are much higher on the radar of European voters than ever before.