Local government reeling after disastrous turnout
7 May, 1999

Regardless of any individual crumbs of comfort that the main political parties will try to pick out from last night one thing remains crystal clear: last night’s local government election results yet again highlights the tremendous disconnection between local politicians and the electorate. With turnout as low as 12% in some wards across England and an estimated 30%+ drop in turnout since the last time these elections were fought in 1995, these figures compare badly both historically within England and across Europe.

Today there is a major crisis of legitimacy gripping local government. Further bold, radical reforms that enable a new style of visible and dynamic political leadership are needed urgently if permanent voter apathy is to be arrested.

Professor Gerry Stoker, Chair of NLGN, warned,
“Local government really is flatlining. If further proof were needed, these turnout figures demonstrate the major crisis of legitimacy within local government today. The introduction of directly elected mayors would provide some real electoral competition and help tackle endemic voter apathy.”