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Ian McAllister and Donley T. Studlar, "Conservative Euroscepticism and the Referendum Party in the 1997 British General Election," Party Politics, 6 (July 2000), 359-371.

First Paragraph:
The vote for the anti-European Referendum Party in the 1997 British general election was, according to Curtice and Steed (1997: 305), 'the strongest ever performance by a British minor party'. Indeed, in 19 constituencies the party's vote exceeded the margin of defeat for a Conservative candidate, suggesting that in these seats the party's intervention had a pivotal role in determining the outcome. Nevertheless, most election analyses have discounted any substantial electoral impact for the Referendum Party, as well as any constituency effects for Conservative candidates declaring themselves to be Eurosceptics.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Euroscepticism among 1997 Conservative election candidates (%)
Table 2: The 1997 Conservative vote by constituency contest
Table 3: Influences on the Conservative vote (regression estimates)
Table 4: Conservative losses potentially attributable to the Referendum Party

Last Paragraph:
Overall, the British general election of 1997 was not close. But in several individual constituencies, even allowing for the impact of other factors, a tight race allowed the Referendum Party to have a discernible, even if largely hidden, impact on the Conservative Party's seats. The Referendum Party, despite the many handicaps accruing to a small, new party organized around one person and one issue, was better able to tap these discontents than were the Conservatives, even the Eurosceptical candidates. Thus the Referendum Party had direct as well as indirect (agenda setting) effects on the electoral outcome (Carter et al., 1998). A more consistent, coherent Eurosceptical position by the Conservative Party might have obviated the Referendum challenge and allowed them to retain more seats, but it also might have led to a party split on the elite level. Nevertheless, the Conservatives suffered the expected electoral consequences for party disunity.