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Galina Borisyuk, Colin Rallings, Michael Thrasher, and Henk van der Kolk, "Voter Support for Minor Parties: Assessing the Social and Political Context of Voting at the 2004 European Elections in Greater London," Party Politics, 13 (November 2007), 669-693.

First paragraph:
The 2005 United Kingdom general election saw overall support for mainstream parties decline and relatively high levels of support in particular for four minor parties. The anti-European Union, United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) came fourth in the popular vote behind Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, receiving more votes than both the Scottishand Welsh Nationalist parties. With candidates in over three-quarters of parliamentary constituencies, UKIP received 2.2 percent of the nationwide vote. The Green Party received more than 250,000 votes, 1 percent of the UK total, virtually doubling its share, while the far-right British National Party (BNP) polled slightly fewer than 200,000 votes, a total almost four times its previous best. Although performing less well than the other parties, the anti-Iraq War Respect Party did capture a seat in inner London. Of course, comparative analysis shows that the UK, a unitary state using the first-past-the-post electoral system, with strong party organization and low electoral volatility, does not provide fertile ground for minor party success (Gerring, 2005). However, it was not entirely a surprise in 2005 that these parties should erode the vote share of the three dominant parties--all had provided a foretaste of their electoral potential in the previous year.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Results of the European, Mayoral and Assembly election in London, 2004.
Table 2. Distribution of European vote shares for each party, 2004 (n = 624)
Table 3. Correlations between party support and census characteristics (logit transformed)
Table 4. Factor loadings of selected census characteristics on four orthogonally (varimax) rotated factors
Table 5. Regression model of main party support
Table 6. Basic regression model of minor party support
Table 7. Regression model of differences between support for UKIP and BNP
Table 8. Extended regression model of minor party support
Figure 1b. Distribution of percentage vote shares for Green
Figure 1d. Distribution of percentage vote shares for BNP

Last Paragraph:
The analysis, however, has raised other questions that aggregate data analysis alone is ill-suited to answer. To what extent, for example, are such levels of voting for minor parties simply a function of political protest and to what extent are they symptoms of a more profound disengagement with mainstream parties? The 2005 general election too resulted in a higher proportion of votes cast for parties outside the political mainstream, but, as we noted earlier, the small number of people recorded in the British Election Study as supporters of these particular minor parties does not permit a thorough analysis. There is some evidence though that repeated opportunities to vote for one of the smaller parties bring electoral dividends. For example, both the Greens and BNP had a higher than expected level of support in London in 2004 in those wards which they had previously contested at the 2002 borough council contests. Another round of London borough elections took place in May 2006 and we shall compare these results with the 2004 contests in order to understand better the context of support for these minor parties.

Last update November 2013