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British General Elections - Essay Example

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The question of political choice in Britain and voter participation and turnout in the British elections remains a matter of concern particularly considering that there has been increased abstention from voting with a decline in voter turnout in the UK. It would be interesting to determine the causes of this decline in voter numbers and analyse the effectiveness of political marketing and encouragement in increasing voter turnout.
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British General Elections
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Download file to see previous pages Yet Brynin and Newton suggest an interesting fact that people whose political ideals and attitudes are compatible with the newspaper they read are more likely to vote than people whose attitudes are considerably cross pressured or go against their own. The study points out that the effects of the newspaper in determining voter choices is significant though not too large and newspapers effects seem to be greater for closely fought elections as that in 1992 than in 1997. Newspaper effects are even high for Labour reinforced political support than for conservative reinforced. The study highlights the fact that newspapers do have a statistically significant effect in determining political behaviour of the voters although the influence of newspapers is more conspicuous during close election results rather than in landslide victories. The study also focuses on the fact that the Conservative press dominated daily circulation in Britain from 1945-1992 and this may have helped the party to win elections continually and remain in power. The role of the press in voter decision making process and in consequent determination of election results could be considered as significant especially for close elections and voter turnout is determined by the newspapers and the impact that the news reports has on the electorate.
The fact that there has been a decline in electorate turnout in the present British elections has raised concerns and Rallings and Thrasher (2003) point out that poor voter turnout is a long feature in British politics. They discuss the recent reforms and electoral arrangements that have attempted to encourage higher voter participation by reducing costs of voting although the effects of these reforms may not be complete if the voters do not comprehend the value of their own voting contributions to the development of the community or the nation. Thus it is important for the electorate to perceive the importance of their vote in shaping the nation and its future and this may be the single most important factor in increasing voter turnout. Rallings and Thrasher point out that the electors who vote in general elections but not in local contests may be more affected by changes and commitment to local community needs and concerns would help to counter voter apathy. The election results and outcomes regarding winning of elections would be important as a mobilising tool as when local elections seem to bring about changes within the local community, then possibly there will be less apathy for the elections and voter turnouts will increase.
The turnout to the British general elections of 1997 was at 71% which caused concerns about the long term scenario of political participation in the country. Pattie and Johnston (2001) provide a political analysis of voter turnout and suggest that there was rapid decline in turnout during the 1950 through 1970 although there has been no long term decline in general election turnout between 1974 and 1997. According to the analysis, close ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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