The results had an immediate impact across the political spectrum, hurting the Labour Party as well as the partners in the governing coalition, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The outcome is likely to increase the pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron to take an even harder line on reducing the powers of the European Union.
The local vote is expected to presage another strong showing for the Independence Party in elections for the European Parliament when those votes are counted late on Sunday. Some opinion polls showed the party with slightly more support than the other parties in the European voting, which took place on Thursday, the same day as the local balloting.
Coming on the heels of a strong showing in France’s local elections for the right-wing National Front party of Marine Le Pen, the returns provide a clear signal of the dissatisfaction of Europeans with their mainstream political parties, as well as with the European Union political establishment after six years of economic doldrums, which is still being felt by many despite hints of recovery.