UKIP’s voting system risks letting in "anti-Islam" Anne Marie Waters

Eleven candidates are currently vying to be UKIP leader, but how might the voting system influence the outcome?

The BBC reports that all eleven candidates for UKIP leader will be on the ballot in the upcoming UKIP leadership contest.

One key story of the election is that it will feature "anti-Islam" candidate Anne Marie Evans. UKIP MEP Mike Hookem has left his post as UKIP’s deputy whip over the issue, according to the BBC.

The fear amongst many is that Waters will turn the party into an anti-Islam movement should she go on to win the election.

While Peter Whittle, a UKIP AM for the London Assembly, is seen as the favourite to succeed Paul Nuttall, Anne Marie Waters has one advantage, which could play in her favour: the party’s voting system.

Despite UKIP being committed to changing the UK’s voting system from first-past-the-post to a more proportional one, UKIP leadership elections are held under this very system, as stated in its constitution.

The previous UKIP election, held in November 2016, saw Paul Nuttall win against Suzanne Evans and John Rees-Evans, winning 62.6% of the vote. In that case, Nuttall won more than half the votes available, according to the BBC.

The time before that – the September 2016 UKIP leadership election – saw Diane James win against four candidates. In this vote, she was backed by less than half of the voting members, according to the BBC.

This time, eleven candidates are standing.

The risk for so-called UKIP “moderates” is that anti-Waters support gets split amongst the ten other candidates.

Diane James won just 46.2% of the vote in September 2016, and that was with five candidates in the race. It is entirely possible to imagine Waters winning with as little as 30% of the vote, depending how voters cast their ballots.

UKIP’s first-past-the-post voting system could let Waters in as UKIP leader, something which could have long-lasting consequences for the party, and even the British political landscape.

The results of the UKIP leadership election will be declared on the 29th September.