Even in a representative democracy, such as we possess in the UK, the plain fact is that money talks.
It doesn't speak on the same scale in the UK as it does in the US – where the former chairman of US investment bank Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine, reportedly spent over $62m (£40.34m) of his own money to win a US Senate seat in 2009 – but it is still an important electoral weapon.
Ukip's leader Nigel Farage is only too aware of this fact and is thus targeting donations from hedge funds, according to a leaked internal Ukip memo from 2012.
We should not be surprised at this fact, given that Farage's career as a commodities trader was firmly rooted in the City of London. He has already garnered a number of high-profile supporters in the City and aims to add to these ranks in the run-up to this year's general election.
Surfing on an austerity-driven nationalist swing
UKIP continues to ride a Europe-wide swing towards pro-nationalist, anti-Europe parties throughout Europe, with immigration remaining a hot topic in the UK in particular, as this Ipsos MORI poll shows.
But the real question is: is this simply a protest driven by austerity measures squeezing the purchasing power of the middle classes in the Western World, or is there more to Ukip's current popularity, which is hovering at 16% in the latest polls of UK voting intentions?
Two Barriers to Wooing City Donors
We can expect Farage and Ukip to focus on disaffected Conservative Party donors rooted in the City, as this has already proved fertile ground for the party, recruiting such grandees as long-time Schroders fund manager Andy Brough and hedge fund manager Crispin Odey.
But for Farage to woo hedge fund donors, it must be demonstrated that Ukip is more than a single-issue, protest vote party, and is one that can stand the test of time to maintain its recent strong political momentum.
Doing this requires potential donors to answer two questions: the first being how many high-profile members of Ukip – apart from Farage and Ukip's Tory MP converts, Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell – can they name ?
This is what is known in finance as the "Key Man Risk": what would happen to Ukip if Farage disappeared tomorrow? In reality, are you backing Ukip, or the personality cult of Nigel Farage?
The second question is how many of Ukip's policies can the potential investor name, apart from withdrawing the UK from the EU and limiting of immigration to the UK?
While Farage is aware of the need to publicise Ukip's other policies – for instance via LBC's "Phone Farage" radio show hosted by Nick Ferrari – it is not clear to me that Ukip's other policies are any more favourable to the City and hedge funds than the Conservative's current policy platform. After all, in the final analysis, personal interest is a key driver of polling intentions at general elections. Why should Ukip be inherently more attractive to a prospective City donor than the ruling Conservatives?
For me, these remain the two towering hurdles to Ukip garnering widespread financial support from the City, which I think Farage and Ukip have not convincingly answered up to now.
Hedge funds are global, not just British!
The final key impediment to Farage's strategy of wooing City-based hedge funds is that they are populated, in a large measure, by the best talent in the finance industry drawn from all over Europe – indeed from all over the globe.
This is hardly surprising, given London's ascent to now being the most global city of all, driven in large part by its pre-eminence as a global financial centre based in Europe and straddling both North American and Asian time zones.
Why should London-based French, Italian and American hedge fund managers give money to an anti-immigration Ukip party? Why would they bite the hand that feeds them?