BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Events: Local Elections 98: NEWS  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 8 May, 1998, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Low turnout boosts Labour plans to change system
Ballots
Turnout was dismal
By BBC News online's Nick Assinder.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says the low turnout in the English council elections shows that Labour is right to press ahead with local government reform.

In some areas, only around 20% of voters cast their ballot.

"The low turnout means were are right to press on with the modernisation of local government, to give local government better responsibilites and better ways of delivering services," he said.

"I think also, for ourselves, as the Labour Party, there is a lesson to be learned there - where in London we have turned around the Labour Party very considerably and got good new Labour councils, they are doing extremely well."

In London, where there was also a referendum on the creation of a powerful new elected mayor, the turnout only hovered around the 30% mark.

It is likely many London voters stayed at home because they believed a "yes" vote was a foregone conclusion. Others may simply have had enough of politics after the general election.

The government has already changed the voting system for European elections and will introduce some form of proportional representation for the polls for the Scottish and Welsh assemblies and the London mayor.

But there are also calls for moves to encourage more people to vote, particularly in local elections.

That could see polling booths in shops and even the possibility of election days being moved to Sunday instead of the traditional Thursday.

There may also be moves to abandon the current policy where councils have yearly elections for one third of all councillors.

The system makes it difficult for voters to force a change in the political control of the authorities and, as a result, may stay at home.

Another fear is that - with the increasing number of elections, and with more complex PR systems being used - voters may suffer election fatigue and simply refuse to turn out.

Britain already has one of the lowest turnout record of any country in Europe, but it is highly unlikely that the government would go as far as some of its EU partners and make voting compulsory.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says the low turnout strengthens the case for reform (25")
Links to more NEWS stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more NEWS stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes