Over on UK Political Info they have a rather expressive chart of voter turnout at general elections over the past half-century. The chart shows the percentage of registered voters who actually voted. Note that eligible but unregistered voters were not counted, nor were spoiled ballots. The percentage stays roughly stable between about 72% and 84% until New Labour get into power in 1997. The turnout for the 1997 election was the lowest so far, but even it was huge compared to the two elections since. Less than 60% voted in 2001 and barely 61% in 2005. If we take into account eligible but unregistered voters it looks like less than half of the population voted in the last two general elections, meaning that Labour held onto power in 2005 thanks to the votes of about one sixth of the population.

It’s not just New Labour and Britain though. Voter turnout dropped dramatically in Japan in the mid-nineties as well. Two island nations, isolated but once the hub of empires, proud, xenophobic, eccentric. I’ve often thought that there are many similarities between Japan and Britain. If only we had reacted to the latter half of the twentieth century as they did. I wonder, would we be better off today if we had fought on the losing side of the last world war?

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 4:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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