In the past year Nigel and Ukip won support but not power. Photo: Getty Images
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Ukip are the least powerful nationalist party in Europe

Since the crisis, coalitions of the right and populist right have become the norm - but under the British electoral system, Ukip are shut out.

Ukip may have dominated the political agenda last year, and become a part of politics, but they are the least powerful established nationalists in Europe.

Take Macedonia. It is run by nationalists – more specifically, the ‘Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity’ – who have repaved Skopje, its capital city, with nationalist monuments.

43 per cent of Macedonians voted for the party last year, and they hold 50 per cent of the seats. Ukip won 13 per cent of the vote here last month, but hold just 1 seat, or 0.2 per cent of those available. Only France’s National Front can match that level of futility.

Ukip have less direct influence on government than nationalists in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, Turkey, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Ireland, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Greece, Luxembourg and Armenia.

Ukip won fewer seats for their votes last month than the Lib Dems ever won in the decades they spent being ill-served by Britain’s system. In Christmas we estimated that the party have missed out on nearly 1,250 seats since 1945, compared to the number they would have won under a proportional system.

Nigel Farage’s party, and Nigel Farage, are now suffering in the same way. They would have won around 85 seats under a proportional system.

If we ever did move to a proportional system, and their level of support holds, Tory-Ukip coalitions would be our most form of government. The two parties won 49.8 per cent of the popular vote last month.

For a long time, voting reform was a way for lefties to keep the Tories out. That would have been the case in 1983 (and every post-war election), if the Lib Dems have won seats proportionally and partnered with Labour. But now such a system would serve the Tories.

A Lab-Lib bloc would have less than 40 per cent of the vote. To approach a majority they would need to partner with the SNP and Greens as well, and form the large, multi-party blocs that most of Europe is used to.

But with the Tories in power, and Labour nostalgic about the landslides First Past The Post can deliver, proportional voting seems a distant prospect. And that means Ukip is likely to remain Europe’s least effective nationalist party for years to come.

Harry Lambert is a staff writer and editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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What did Jeremy Corbyn really say about Bin Laden?

He's been critiqued for calling Bin Laden's death a "tragedy". But what did Jeremy Corbyn really say?

Jeremy Corbyn is under fire for describing Bin Laden’s death as a “tragedy” in the Sun, but what did the Labour leadership frontrunner really say?

In remarks made to Press TV, the state-backed Iranian broadcaster, the Islington North MP said:

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died.”

He also added that it was his preference that Osama Bin Laden be put on trial, a view shared by, among other people, Barack Obama and Boris Johnson.

Although Andy Burnham, one of Corbyn’s rivals for the leadership, will later today claim that “there is everything to play for” in the contest, with “tens of thousands still to vote”, the row is unlikely to harm Corbyn’s chances of becoming Labour leader. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.