political engagement

British voters abandon British democracy

25th April 2012
25 Apr 2012
political engagement
voter behaviour
party funding


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British voters abandon British democracy

The 2012 Audit of Political Engagement shows downward trend in voter engagament.

In a week where politicians have been refuting the idea that the public should be allowed to elect our representatives in the House of Lords (despite the fact that a recent You Gov poll found 69% of the public support the reform) a new study showing a serious decline in people’s engagement with politics is perhaps unsurprising.

The 2012 Audit of Political Engagement found that less than half (48%) of people would be certain to vote in the event of an immediate general election, down a massive ten points from 2011. To make matters worse 16% of the public now say they are ‘absolutely certain not to vote’.

The study reports that ‘participants felt they had no means to give voice to their views, individually and, more importantly, collectively’ and that ‘the public simply do not think that if they, or people like themselves, were to get involved in politics they could have any impact on the way the country is run’.

The findings suggest that not only are people less inclined to vote but that they no longer believe they can change things by getting involved.

The report authors conclude ‘A year on, this indifference now seems to have hardened into something more serious: the trends in interest and knowledge are downward, dramatically so in some instances, suggesting a public that is turning away from national politics.’

This is a damning indictment of British politics and a stark warning to our politicians that things cannot continue as they are.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society commented:

‘British democracy is at a crisis point. Voters are increasingly fed up with watching politicians looking out for their own interests while ignoring ours.

‘The most recent in a long line of party funding scandals made it clear once again that it is big business and rich donors - not voters - who’s opinions count and while watching politicians try and wiggle out of allowing us to elect our representatives in the House of Lords you could be forgiven for thinking that British voters are an encumbrance rather than a central part of British democracy.

‘Many politicians have no problem with the status quo but voters clearly feel differently. We simply cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and watch while the very legitimacy of British democracy is under threat. Democracy is hard work and it is never job done. The writing’s on the wall: It’s time for change.‘


For more information or to arrange an interview contact the media office on 020 7202 8601

Download 2012 Audit of Political Engagement report

Notes to Editors

1. The Electoral Reform Society is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and improve UK democracy.
2. To find out more visit http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk