Posts tagged "Ukip"

A big six weeks for Britain… and Europe

An extraordinary election approaches, but traditions die hard in the United Kingdom.

Today, the 55th parliament of the United Kingdom will be ‘prorogued’ – a suspension of proceedings (to be followed by dissolution), involving red robes and ermine, royal ‘inconvenience’, slammed doors, ceremonial hat-doffing, and royal assent in Norman French.

In Britain, some things stay – perhaps reassuringly – constant. But this is no ordinary election: it is one that could change Britain’s own constitutional make-up, its place in the world, and the nature of the European Union as we know it. Perhaps in 2015 only the Greek election rivals it in importance for the future of Europe.

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A trio of troubles in Tusk’s in-tray

??????????????????????????????????The final piece of Europe’s jigsaw is almost in place.

On Monday, Donald Tusk (pictured above) – elected by the national leaders at the end of August, becomes President of the European Council. But what faces the former Polish prime minister when he arrives in his new office on Monday?

Herman Van Rompuy – Tusk’s predecessor in the role – identified three key issues when the new President was unveiled in the summer. None of the these three issues has become simpler in the last three months.

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The new European Parliament on Twitter: look who’s talking

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Download our PDF infographic of the new European Parliament on Twitter

As predicted, more MEPs are on Twitter than ever before (531 compared to 408 in the previous EP), and almost half are tweeting every day.

Our infographic of the new European Parliament on Twitter shows this increase in the number of Twitter users also brings in some significant new faces: Pablo Iglesias, a Spanish Podemos MEP who is the radical left candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament, has more than 400,000 followers – far ahead of leading tweeters from the last parliament (such as Marine Le Pen, Martin Schulz or Nigel Farage). The GUE/NGL Group also has the biggest proportion of daily tweeters.

On the opposite side of the hemicycle, nearly 80% of MEPs from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) Group are on Twitter. The group also features the Parliament’s two most prolific tweeters (both new MEPs from the UK Independence Party – it remains to be seen if they will remain so active when they take up their roles as MEPs).

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Britain at the heart of Europe – on Twitter, at least

Vienna GfK studyNever mind the Pollock-style imagery: Axel Maireder‘s data-rich map of the European Twittersphere contains some fascinating insights into online conversations around the European Parliament elections.

Behind the explosion of colours is two months of tweets about the elections analysed by Maireder and his team at the University of Vienna, in collaboration with market research institute GfK. They tracked more than 1.3 million tweets from nearly half a million Twitter users to develop a map of the online political landscape.

Read the study by the University of Vienna and GfK Read more on the GfK website

The map – which features the 11,844 accounts that tweeted at least once about the elections and which were followed by at least 250 other accounts that also tweeted – helpfully visualises the most important and influential users who talked about the 25 May polls. Larger dots indicate a larger number of followers; the closer they are plotted, the greater the similarity in their followings.

But what is the meaning of this map and this data? And how can we use it?

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Ukip’s local success makes them a fourth force in British politics

It was hardly a surprise that the UK Independence Party did well in England’s local elections.

In an age of rampant political antipathy, their voters represent the three ‘Ds’, a trinity of problems for mainstream political parties: dissatisfied, disapproving, and distrustful.

However, the scale of Ukip’s performance defied expectations. Apart from in London, they gained seats across the country in these elections (with 161 local authorities holding polls this year).

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Different states of independence

Alex Salmond at the ECOne of the quirky sub-plots of this year’s European Parliament elections is that the success of one ‘independence’ movement could inadvertently boost the prospects of another.

Scotland’s independence referendum is just a few months away. The polls are tight: a recent poll says that 42% of Scots would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom, while 39% would support independence. The two campaigns are virtually neck-and-neck. This weekend, one of Scotland’s Sunday newspapers said it backed independence. Scotland’s destiny is in the balance.

A few events between now and 18 September could have a big impact – something that Alex Salmond (pictured above with European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso) Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), knows only too well.

One is the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, in July and August. These games – third largest multi-sport event in the world – bring together athletes from 70 countries. Scotland competes separately in these Games and, as host nation, it will aim to showcase its sporting and organisational prowess. Expect an abundance of national pride.

Another is the European Parliament election on 22 May. Scotland has only six MEPs, but the result across the United Kingdom will be keenly observed north of the border – and especially the expected success of the UK Independence Party (Ukip). Anti-EU feeling across the rest of Britain could easily make many Scots – generally more pro-European than the English are – vote to exit the UK now rather than be part of a British exit from the EU.

But where would independence leave Scotland, the UK and Europe?

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