How has voter turnout changed in the UK?

When the day of the general election arrives on 8 June, how many people will turn up to vote? 

Over one million young people have registered to vote since the election was called on 18 April. The often dramatic run up to this general election has seen a new generation become actively involved in politics in all areas. Despite this, out of those registered to vote in the UK general elections of recent years, the percentage of those who actually turned up to the polling stations on the day has varied.

We’ve taken a look at the electorate turnout figures for the past five UK general elections since 1997, to see how the number of people actually turning up on the day has changed.

1997 – Tony Blair – Labour Victory

71.4% UK voter turnout

The first Labour victory since 1979 saw a 71.4% voter turnout, with a third absent on election day. Tony Blair saw a landslide victory over the Conservative’s John Major, and put an end to 18 years of opposition to the Conservatives in Parliament.

1997 1997-seats

2001 – Tony Blair – Labour Victory

59.4% UK voter turnout

The 2001 general election saw one of the highest levels of voter apathy, with only 59.4% of voters turning up on election day, the lowest level since the 1918 general election.

 

2005 – Tony Blair – Labour Victory

61.4% UK voter turnout

2005 saw Tony Blair elected as prime minister for the third consecutive term, but also saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent years. This apathy from voters follows a wave of negative news stories, with the war on terror and and US/UK relations at the hands of Blair under scrutiny.

2010 – Hung Parliament

65.1% UK voter turnout

The 2010 hung parliament saw 45,597,461 votes resulting in a coalition government being formed by the Conservative’s David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg. This was the first hung parliament result since 1974.

2015 – David Cameron – Conservative Victory

66.1% UK voter turnout

The Conservative winning a majority in 2015’s general election was an unexpected result, with 66.1% turning out to vote on the day.

Voter turnout percentage is far lower than it used to be

Despite the ubiquity of politics in our day to day news cycle, on average the UK votes a lot less than it used to. In 1945, when Clemence Attlee saw his second election victory over Winston Churchill, voter turnout was 72.8%. The 2015 general election saw just 66.1% of voters showing up on the day.

Voter-turnout-since-1920

Young people vote a lot less than older people

Finally, another divide in the electorate is within the age demographic figures. 35% less voters from the 18-24-year-old bracket voted than the 65 and older bracket in the 2015 general election.  

2015-General-Election-Turnout-by-Age

 


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