LONDON (AP) — The British anti-immigration party, UKIP, easily won its second seat in Parliament on Friday — a victory that will heighten disquiet in Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party as it prepares for next year's election.
Mark Reckless, the second Conservative to leave the party and win a seat for UKIP, won 42 percent of the vote in a special election in the Rochester & Strood constituency in southeast England. The Conservative candidate polled nearly 39 percent of the vote, followed by Labour with just below 17 percent. The Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the governing coalition, polled less than 1 percent.
Reckless had forced the special election by resigning from his parliamentary seat in the same constituency. He had argued that the Conservatives had lost touch with issues faced by working class people and with their unease about the increasing number of migrants from the European Union.
Cameron had campaigned vigorously in the district in hopes of stalling UKIP's momentum. Reckless' victory comes only weeks after lawmaker Douglas Carswell defected from the Conservatives and won UKIP's first seat in the House of Commons in a vote seen as a protest against the country's mainstream parties.
Though the winning margin was slimmer than anticipated, UKIP leader Nigel Farage suggested more Conservative lawmakers would switch sides to his party ahead of next year's general election.
"We have beaten the governing party of the day in this sort of life and death struggle. It represents a huge, huge victory," he told Sky News. "I would be very surprised, given where we are, if there weren't more defections between now and the next general election.
The Conservatives, for their part, put the focus on the general election set for May, with Cameron saying he was "absolutely determined to win this seat back at the next general election."