British Eurosceptic Voting in 2014: Anti-EU or Anti-Government?

  • Sofia Vasilopoulou
Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


This chapter examines British eurosceptic voting at the 2014 European Parliament (EP) election, analyzing British party politics, party competition and the role of political entrepreneurs and public preferences. It shows that the 2014 EP election campaign did have a European dimension, although not the one intended by the EP. The campaign was dominated by the question of the UK’s continued EU membership and related issues, such as EU freedom of movement and UK borders. The analysis of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) voting reveals both EU and domestic concerns. While voters opted for UKIP as they perceived it to be close to their anti-EU attitudes, that party’s supporters also voted to express disapproval of the government, especially as compared to Conservative and Liberal Democrat voters.


Eurosceptic voting • UKIP • British politics 


  1. Bakker, R., Edwards, E., Hooghe, L., Jolly, S., Marks, G., Polk, J., et al. (2015). 2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey (Version 2015.1) [Available on]. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  2. BBC. (2014). Bulgarians and Romanians free to work in UK as controls end, 1 January 2014. Available from Accessed 28 Mar 2016.
  3. Budge, I., Klingemann, H. D., Volkens, A., & Bara, J. (Eds.). (2001). Mapping policy preferences: Estimates for parties, electors, and Governments, 1945–1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dahlgreen, W. (2014).Voters: New UKIP adverts are not racist (24 April). Available from Accessed 29 Mar 2016.
  5. Daniels, P. (1998). From hostility to ‘constructive engagement’: The Europeanisation of the labour party. West European Politics, 21(1), 72–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. De Vries, C., van der Brug, W., van Egmond, M. H., & van der Eijk, C. (2011). Individual contextual variation in EU issue voting: The role of political information. Electoral Studies, 30(1), 16–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Economist. (2014, May 22). Cameron versus the Spitzenkandidaten. Available from Accessed 28 Mar 2016.
  8. Electoral Commission. (2014). Electoral Commission releases European election campaign expenditure returns of more than £250,000. Available from,000. Accessed 29 Mar 2016.
  9. Franklin, M. N. (2014). Why vote at an election with no apparent purpose? Voter turnout at elections to the European Parliament. European Policy Analysis: The Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies (SIEPS), 1–12.Google Scholar
  10. Franklin, M. N., & Hobolt, S. B. (2011). The legacy of lethargy: How elections to the European Parliament depress turnout. Electoral Studies, 30(1), 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Geddes, A. (2013). Britain and the European Union. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  12. George, S. (1998). An awkward partner: Britain in the European Community (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Goodwin, M., & Milazzo, C. (2015). UKIP: Inside the campaign to redraw the map of British politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Guardian. (2013, May 13). Ukip surge in polls unprecedented since creation of the SDP in 1981. Available from Accessed 28 Mar 2016.
  15. Guardian. (2014a). Farage v Clegg: Ukip leader triumphs in second televised debate (3 April). Available from Accessed 29 Mar 2016.
  16. Guardian. (2014b). Nigel Farage defends Ukip’s election campaign after critics call ads racist (22 April). Available from Accessed 29 Mar 2016.
  17. Hertner, I., & Keith, D. (2016). Europhiles or Eurosceptics? Comparing the European policies of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats. British Politics. doi:10.1057/bp.2016.4Google Scholar
  18. Hix, S., & Marsh, M. (2007). Punishment or protest? Understanding European Parliament elections. The Journal of Politics, 69(2), 495–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hix, S., & Marsh, M. (2011). Second-order effects plus pan-European political swings: An analysis of European Parliament elections across time. Electoral Studies, 30(1), 4–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hix, S., & Wilks-Heeg, S. (2014). Media coverage in Germany and the UK shows why both countries have radically different views over who should be the next Commission President, 10 June.Available from​andpolicy/media-coverage-in-germany-and-the-uk-shows-why-both-countries-have-radically-different-views-over-who-should-be-the-next-commission-president/. Accessed 28 Mar 2016.
  21. Hobolt, S. B., & Spoon, J. J. (2012). Motivating the European voter: Parties, issues and campaigns in European Parliament elections. European Journal of Political Research, 51(6), 701–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hobolt, S., & Tilley, J. (2014). Blaming Europe? Responsibility without accountability in the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hobolt, S. B., & Wittrock, J. (2011a). The second-order election model revisited: An experimental test of vote choices in European Parliament elections. Electoral Studies, 30(1), 29–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hobolt, S. B., Spoon, J. J., & Tilley, J. (2009). A vote against Europe? Explaining defection at the 1999 and 2004 European Parliament elections. British Journal of Political Science, 39(1), 93–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lynch, P. (2015). Conservative modernisation and European integration: From silence to salience and schism. British Politics, 10, 185–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Netjes, C., & Binnema, H. (2007). The salience of the European integration issue: Three data sources compared. Electoral Studies, 26, 39–49.Google Scholar
  27. Quinlan, S., & Okolikj, M. (2016). This time it’s different…but not really! The 2014 European Parliament elections in Ireland. Irish Political Studies, 31(2).Google Scholar
  28. Reif, K., & Schmitt, H. (1980). Nine second-order national elections: A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results. European Journal of Political Research, 8(1), 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schmitt, H., & Toygür, I. (2016). European Parliament Elections of May 2014: Driven by National Politics or EU Policy Making? Politics and Governance, 4(1), 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schmitt, H., Popa, S.A., & Devinger, F. (2015). European Parliament Election Study 2014, Voter Study, First Post-Election Survey, GESIS Data Archive, Cologne, ZA5161 Data File Version 1.0.0. Available from  10.4232/1.5161
  31. Startin, N. (2015). Have we reached a tipping point? The mainstreaming of Euroscepticism in the UK. International Political Science Review, 36(3), 311–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Taggart, P. (1998). A Touchstone of dissent: Euroscepticism in contemporary Western European Party Systems. European Journal of Political Research, 33(3), 363–388.Google Scholar
  33. UKIP. (2014a).Create an earthquake. UKIP Manifesto 2014.Google Scholar
  34. UKIP. (2014b).UKIP national billboard campaign. Available from Accessed 28 Mar 2016.
  35. van der Brug, W., Gattermann, K., & de Vreese, C. H. (2016). Introduction: How different were the European Elections of 2014? Politics and Governance, 4(1), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. van der Eijk, C., Franklin, M. N., & Marsh, M. (1996). What voters teach us about Europe-wide Elections: What Europe-wide elections teach us about voters. Electoral Studies, 15(2), 149–166.Google Scholar
  37. Wellings, B. (2010). Losing the peace: Euroscepticism and the foundations of contemporary English nationalism. Nations and Nationalism, 16(3), 488–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sofia Vasilopoulou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of YorkYorkEngland

Personalised recommendations