And so the quinquennial farce that are the European Parliamentary Elections draw towards an end as those who can be bothered to cast a ballot get the opportunity to do so at various times over the next 4 days with the results starting to be announced after the polls finally close on Sunday evening.
Farce, you cry? Well yes. What else do you call voting for a parliament with few powers? The real power lies with the European Commission and the members of that august body (no sniggering at the back) are appointed by national governments without any voter consultation.
Given that, is it any surprise that the European electorate aren’t expected to bother? Barely 43% bothered in 2009 – ranging from as high as 91% in Belgium and Luxembourg to just shy of 20% in Slovakia (the UK managed just over 1 in 3) – and I doubt it would surprise anyone if it is lower this time around.
As any UK resident will be aware, the main media story of the campaign in this country has been UKIP and the likelihood of them topping the poll – thus leading to them taking more seats on the European gravy train than either Labour or the Conservatives.
To call the campaign acrimonious would be an understatement. With it being impossible (since they have no effective power) to formulate an election strategy based on what the pan-European electoral grouping each national party is affiliated to might achieve should it become the biggest (pretty much nothing), the UK parties have fallen back on national issues. Therefore the election will (in the UK at least) be seen more as a protest against the ‘Establishment’ rather than as a serious attempt to produce a ‘Government’ (in the loosest sense of the word).
I suspect only those who have been concentrating will be able to recall anything memorable that iDave, Millipede Jr or Nick have said during this campaign but, thanks to the media attention focused on the party, can probably mention several things said by UKIP leader Nigel Farage and various candidates (whether for the European or the local elections) – especially the ones that cast the party in a bad light.
The charge of racism has been levelled at them since they made immigration (or the right to live and work anywhere within the EU) the focus of their EU election strategy and various comments have shown that there are certainly some candidates who have distasteful views regarding skin colour or, more generally, anyone perceived to be ‘foreign’.
I very much doubt that those sentiments are confined to just UKIP supporters or candidates but the repeated accusations and exposures of candidates opinions has, it would seem, demonstrably failed to make any negative impact on UKIP’s polling figures. We shall find out the truth of the matter on Sunday. What has been rather more amusing is watching the development of a bunker mentality amongst the more vocal of their supporters on social media and a run on tinfoil as their belief that this is all a conspiracy grows.
In the end though it matters not if UKIP top the European Parliament ballot in Great Britain. Until they manage to get some MPs they are going to remain an even more useless protest vote than the Lib Dems.
If you wish to vote UKIP (or, indeed, anyone else) then go ahead. Just don’t think it will change anything.