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Friday, 8 June, 2001, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK

Ballot box boredom hits town

The electorate of Newport have topped the poll for general election apathy.

Across the whole of the UK the election had the lowest turnout since 1918, with just 59% of the population bothering to vote.

The Welsh average was marginally higher at 61.6%, but the figures still point to an increasing degree of voter apathy.

Labour has said this shows general satisfaction with the government - but opinion polls suggest many people believe there is no real difference between the parties.

Turn out statistics

  • Newport East - down 17.8%
  • Newport West - down 15.9%
  • Swansea East - down 14.9%
  • Ogmore - down 14.7%
  • Torfaen - down 14%
  • Cynon Valley - down 13.7%
  • Alyn - down 13.6%
  • Pontypridd - down 13.4%

    The number of people voting in Newport East, dropped by 17.8% over the last election, resulting in a turnout of 55.7%.

    In neighbouring Newport West the figure was down by 15.9%.

    But both constituencies comfortably returned sitting Labour MPs - who say the low turnout could be viewed with a positive spin.

    But Labour's Newport West MP Paul Flynn believes that voters are staying away from the polls because they do not want change.

    He said: "Apathy means voters are content.

    "They are not angry enough with the government to get out of their chair and vote against them."

    Brecon and Radnor had the highest turnout in Wales with 71.8% - but even that was more than 10% lower than in the last general election in 1997.

    For a variety of reasons it seems many people across Wales just could not be bothered to vote on Thursday.

    Electoral Commissioner Glyn Mathias warns that it may have been a lack of enthusiasm from the electorate for this election.

    " The commission will be looking at this and analysing it and trying to find out what went wrong "
    Electoral Commissioner Glyn Mathias

    He said: "The commission will be looking at this and analysing it and trying to find out what went wrong.

    "But we must be careful that we do not attribute it to general political apathy.

    "It might be quite possible that these are circumstances particular to this general election.

    Despite the fall off in voter numbers - the general turnout for Wales of 61.6% was still higher than the British average.

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