[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 22:35 GMT 23:35 UK
None of the above.
One thing we can already predict about this Thursday's elections is that most people entitled to a vote won't use it.
Turnout in local elections is invariably below fifty per cent. Often less than a third of the potential electorate use their vote.

And that despite ad campaigns and the introduction of postal voting to try to get turn out up.

One answer to mass stay aways from the polls is to make it compulsory to

vote.

They do that in quite a lot of countries from Australia to Greece to Switzerland. Fail to turn out without good reason and you get fined.

On Monday the think tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research will publish a report arguing for compulsory voting as the only sure solution to the long-term decline in turn out and the best way to get groups who vote least- like the poor and the young- back to the polling stations.

Compulsory voting already has the public support of two members of the Cabinet, Geoff Hoon and Peter Hain.

The Conservatives have come out against the idea-- saying that fines for not voting will be Labour stealth tax which the Government could try to slip into electoral legislation which is before parliament at the moment. The Conservatives constitutional affairs spokesman Oliver Heald told us why he'd reached that conclusion.



BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Andrew Rawnsley's interview with Oliver Heald



PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific