The answer is, it depends. Let’s find out.
The UK Independence party (Ukip), founded in 2005, is an anti-immigration party. In 2011 it got 1.2m votes – less than a third of Labour’s but 10 times more than the Tories’ vote. In the European elections that year, one quarter of its voters were non-citizens. For UKIP the best place to start is not in Europe but in its home country, the United Kingdom.
On the face of it, the U.K. is remarkably tolerant. British citizens from Ireland and Scotland are allowed to vote in the U.K. election. (Some of their children can too.) Non-citizens are allowed in some jobs, and are allowed to vote.
So why did UKIP’s poll lead shrink in May’s EU referendum? It’s possible that the EU referendum caused more concern in the country than in last year’s general election, when the Conservatives were ahead. But there’s little reason to believe that the difference in the two votes had anything to do with whether Britain should remain in the EU.
In fact British pollsters had warned about a potential Brexit-type shock to EU polls in the wake of the U.S. election last year.
In a paper published in March 2015, Dr Julian Chappell, of the University of Surrey, wrote that the effect of the European elections on turnout was the reason the British left was likely to be disappointed in 2012 by just 1 percent in the general election. But he admitted that if the polls had been in line with predictions, the Conservatives would have won the election by about 3 percent.
So why didn’t they?
In Britain there are two categories of people. There are the ones who, like UKIP, are pro-Brexit and oppose immigration. And there are the ones who, like Labour, reject the latter group and want to take in a higher number of immigrants – many from outside Britain but also from Europe.
The question is whether the UKIP voters are the latter group. Most of those who don’t bother to vote are non-citizens – an important point to consider in order to figure out whether the party’s surge in the polls was due to the EU referendum or simply a coincidence.
It could also be a question of whether the Brexit-type shock could spread to other countries if other countries follow Britain’s lead.
And the reason many of those who don’t bother to vote are non-
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