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Trends in local elections in Britain.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date08/2005
JournalLocal Government Studies
Number of pages21
Original languageEnglish


Five aspects of local elections in Britain over a thirty year period are examined. First, the process of party politicisation has seen the growth of more three-party systems whilst in parts of the Celtic fringe electors may have a choice of at least four parties. The increase in party candidates has had an important impact on the second aspect considered, that of uncontested seats. In some areas, particularly in the larger towns and cities, lack of contestation has not been significant. In remaining areas the trend has been towards increased competition and challenge for council seats. The third aspect is electoral turnout, where a recent decline has prompted considerable debate. However, the benefit of a longitudinal study is to provide historical perspective. The data show fluctuations in turnout but no 'golden age' where participation rates were significantly higher than in the modern era. The fourth and fifth aspects are the distribution of votes and seats respectively. The two-party vote share has declined and voters appear more prepared to support minor party candidates. In turn this has contributed to a growth in the variety of party systems in local government.