Monday, 8 June 2009

BNP win is proof of democracy working

As people woke up this morning to find that the BNP had gained more seats than any other party in the European elections they were rightly disgusted that the UK is, for the first time, returning a fascist to Strasbourg. Interestingly the blog world has also become obsessed with this story and I would suggest this is more to do with the failure of their own party than anything else. One LibDem blogger suggests that proportional representation is not to blame but let us remember that they gained one seat despite losing 1.2% of their total vote share from last time. Meanwhile a Tory blogger goes so far as to suggest that the BNP are on the far-left of the political spectrum! This politically naive argument only detracts from the Conservative party gaining a paltry 1% of the popular vote when the governing national party is in disarray.

Without a shadow of a doubt it is the BNP who have been the most successful in these elections. Although the Green party went up by 2.4% in terms of the total vote share compared to the BNP's 1.3%, the Green's did not gain any extra seats whilst Nick Griffin squeezed into the North-West of England by around 1,200 votes and Andrew Brons earned more than 120,000 votes to secure a seat in Yorkshire and the Humber.

There are many reasons which can be attributed to the BNP winning nearly 1 million votes. Firstly the electoral system has to take some of the blame. Proportional representation (PR) is often banded around as being more fair and democratic but the truth of the matter is that it allows fringe parties not only to get their hands on power but to be a controlling influence as a coalition partner. The good news from this is that a chance of BNP success in a general election is slim.

Going back to the Euro election results though the online world seems almost apologetic for letting the BNP represent the UK but the far-right have had a lot of success across Europe in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary and especially the Netherlands where Geert Wilders' PVV party picked up 17% of the popular vote along with four seats, in the end finishing up in second place overall.

The current economic climate could have left the gate open to parties on the left of the political spectrum who would offer both greater control of the economy but also greater redistribution of wealth. However the far-left only made a small gain in Denmark and none whatsoever in either France or Germany where they were expected to do well. Instead it seems to be the authoritarian right which is doing best across Europe. The UK is a good microcosm of this fact and not just in relation to the BNP. The Conservatives won the election and now seek to form a new anti-federalist alliance with other winners in Eastern Europe. Meanwhile the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) also had success in beating the Labour party to second place, showing that their performance in 2004 was by no means a fluke.

In my opinion, if you do not vote then you accept the results of the election and continuing with this logic, 68% of the total electorate accept the BNP as our representatives in Europe. With poor turnout and PR contributing to the result we still have to say that democracy is working, but as the old cliche goes: 'you get what you vote for'.