Holyrood 2003 – Where were the Voters?

Catherine Bromley

in Has Devolution Delivered?

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748622467
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672028 | DOI:
Holyrood 2003 – Where were the Voters?

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Voting in elections held in Scotland, as well as those across the United Kingdom, has fallen dramatically in recent years. When invited to participate in the Scottish Parliament's first ever democratic election in 1999, just 58 per cent took up the opportunity. Although these turnout levels were historically low, they all shared one redeeming feature: more people voted in them than did not. In the second Scottish Parliament election in 2003, however, this was not the case. With a turnout of just 49 per cent, abstention (even if only by a very small margin) was the act of the majority. This chapter explains why people did not vote in the 2003 election and why turnout was even lower in 2003 than in 1999. In particular, it examines whether the decline in voter turnout between 1999 and 2003 was a reflection of the electorate's rather lukewarm evaluations of four years of devolution or whether it was simply the result of wider trends that are helping to depress turnout at all elections.

Keywords: Scotland; elections; voter turnout; devolution; Scottish Parliament; abstention

Chapter.  7382 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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