Despite tonight’s victory for UKIP in the European election, Nigel Farage’s party looks set to poll just 5% of the vote in 2015’s General Election unless the party can dramatically improve on its past failures to hold on to European election voters, according to new projections by British Future.
The Conservatives look on course to secure 37% of the 2015 vote, based on past trends, leaving David Cameron in with a chance of holding on to the keys to Downing Street. Governing parties have increased their vote share by 13 points between European and general elections since 1999.
Based on analysis of European and general election results since 1999, British Future projects that UKIP’s share of 27.5% in the European vote will fade to just 5% in 2015, casting doubt on whether the Eurosceptic party will secure any parliamentary seats at all.
After its impressive 2004 and 2009 European performances, UKIP retained just over a third (37%) of its European vote in the following general election. With more roots put down in constituencies, Nigel Farage told the BBC’s Today Programme that he hopes to nearly double that retention rate to around six out of 10 – but that would still leave him with just 9% of the 2015 vote, leaving it in the balance as to whether UKIP secure even a single House of Commons seats.
With Labour unable to match the 28% scored by David Cameron in the 2009 European election, a majority government may be out of reach for Ed Miliband, though the Labour leader may still hope to head a coalition or minority government.
|2014 Euro vote share
|Projected 2015 vote share
(1) If UKIP perform as in previous general elections and hold on to 37% of Euro vote share
(2) If UKIP perform more strongly, as predicted by leader Nigel Farage, and retain 66% of Euro vote share
British Future’s director Sunder Katwala said:
“This is an impressive result for UKIP, the first time an outsider party has won a national election, albeit one with a very narrow electorate. But Nigel Farage should enjoy his pint and his fag while he can – tonight is UKIP’s high water mark and the evidence suggests they’ll fade away by the general election.
“UKIP has never retained its momentum into a general election before and past performance suggests a vote share of around 5% next year. Nigel Farage will hope to hold on to more of his fair-weather Eurosceptic voters in a year’s time – but even if he doubles up and carries two-thirds of his support into 2015, he would still muster just 9% of the vote.
“Nearly twice as many people will vote in 2015 and they’ll look quite different to the electorate who turned out on Thursday. This was an ‘outsider election’ with an electorate that’s much older, whiter and more Eurosceptic than those who’ll vote to decide our government next year.
“Ed Miliband and David Cameron were beaten on Thursday. But Cameron will add 13% to his score by 2015 and both will massively increase their number of votes – from UKIP and from the 15 million extra voters who’ll cast a ballot – by next May.”
British Future’s report earlier this year, “The rise and rise of the outsider election”, analysed all results from European and general elections in Britain since 1999, when proportional representation was introduced for elections to the European parliament. It found that European elections have consistently favoured ‘outsider parties’, those with little or no representation at Westminster, while mainstream parties – both government and opposition – tend to perform badly then pick up support at general elections.