People will be voting today in the UK and across the rest of Europe over the coming days to elect the next European Parliament. What might be key public policy issues arising from that election? Here are three:
There is a chance that turnout may be up in this election. In the past it has averaged in the mid 30’s in the UK (one of the lowest in Europe), but the sense it has a lot of relevance to domestic politics for next years general election and local elections on the same day may raise turnout to the early to mid 40’s. If this is the case, it may illustrate that people’s voting behaviour is impacted by the ‘relevance’ of the election to their lives.
Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin in their book Revolt on the Right identifies three issues that assisted the rise of UKIP: Europe, immigration and a perception that politicians were all the same and only looked after themselves. The forthcoming results may accentuate that. The most recent polling shows that rational attacks on UKIP by the established parties seemed to have actually been counter-productive. This may lead to organisations looking at new ways to engage, where the focus is on listening and conversation that allows people to get strongly emotional concerns and fears off their chest. This of course has to be handled sensitively.
The rise of UKIP is a symptom of public disaffection and one issue is around perceptions of immigration and the the impact it might have on communities. This makes community cohesion a key issue again in the post-Euro-election climate. Local authorities may want to consider strong signals that come from the elections on local perception. They might also seek to understand local drivers for them as well as weak signals of other cohesion problems that may come to the fore as a result of a changed political landscape. This will clearly impact on key areas such as trust and reputation.
All in all there will be some interesting days ahead as people pick over the results.
Charlie Mansell is research and Development officer at The Campaign Company