Britain, the Six and the World Economy
The European Community and 1992
Britain in the New Europe
Europe's Endangered Liberal Order
The Importance of Being English: Eyeing the Sceptered Isles
What If the British Vote No?
The End of Europe?
Letter From London: One Market, Many Peoples
Will the Crash Scuttle the European Project?
Saving the Euro, Dividing the Union
Could Europe's Deeper Integration Push the United Kingdom Out?
The New British Politics
What the UKIP Victory and the Scottish Referendum Have in Common
The United Kingdom’s Retreat From Global Leadership
Should It Stay or Should It Go?
The Brexistential Crisis
Putting a Safety Valve on Democracy
The Conservative Case Against Brexit
Euroskepticism's Biggest Fallacy
Why Brexit Would Benefit Europe
The Pragmatic Case for Brexit
The New Divided Kingdom
A Brexit Post-Mortem
Life After Brexit
Brexit's False Democracy
What the Vote Really Revealed
The Roots of Brexit
1992, 2004, and European Union Expansion
The Irish Question
The Consequences of Brexit
Scotland After Brexit
Will It Leave the United Kingdom?
The Swiss Model
Why It Won't Work for the United Kingdom
NATO After Brexit
Will Security Cooperation Work?
A Brexiteer's Celebration
A Conversation with Kwasi Kwarteng
A Remainer’s Lament
A Conversation With Ed Balls
May's Brexit Mastery
Time for the United Kingdom to Move On
It has been less than a month since the United Kingdom’s domestic politics captured world headlines with the landmark Scottish referendum on independence. However, yet another (somewhat smaller) political earthquake rippled through the British electoral landscape on Friday with the news that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has won its first seat in the House of Commons in Clacton, southern England.
UKIP, a party built around a policy of British withdrawal from the European Union, claims that the victory signals a “shift in the tectonic plates of British politics.” And, indeed, it could be a precursor to another UKIP victory in the November 20 by-election in Strood and Rochester, which is also in southern England.
To be sure, some dismiss UKIP’s success last Friday as an electoral flash in the pan. But that ignores the party’s earlier success in May, when it won the European Parliament vote in the United Kingdom, thus becoming the first party other than the Conservatives or Labour to win a national election in more than 100 years.
UKIP’s by-election victory and last month's Scottish referendum may seem unrelated. But they both reflect flux in British politics: a relatively stable two-party system is giving way to more unpredictability. For much of the postwar period, British politics has been dominated by the Conservatives and Labour. Between 1945 and 1970, for instance, the two parties collectively won an average of over 90 percent of the vote -- and seats -- in the eight British general elections held in that time.
Yet in the nine elections held between 1974 and 2005, that average fell significantly to below 75 percent. And that has brought about major political changes that are still unfolding to this day. The Liberals have done most in recent decades to break the hold of the two major parties on power. From 1974 to 2005, the average Liberal share of the vote (including an alliance between the Liberals and the United Kingdom’s Social Democratic Party [SDP] from 1983 to 1987) in British general elections
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