This article examines the 2019 European Parliament election in the UK. The main beneficiaries were the newly formed Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats, both of which ran on clear Brexit platforms, while the Conservatives and Labour struggled to attract support. But the Brexit focus of the campaign – and the victory of parties with clear positions on these issues – belied the extent to which the election conformed to the expectations of second-order contest theory, with low turnout, declining support for the governing (Conservative) party, a surge in support for new and small parties, and scant discussion of European Union-level issues. While the vote shows realignment in the UK continues and can tell us much about the shifting politics of Brexit, we should be cautious inferring much from the victory of the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats given the second-order nature of the contest.
- political parties
- European Union