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Political Participation

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Popular engagement with the formal processes and institutions of democracy has been in long-term decline since the 1960s. The decline in electoral turnout is perhaps the most obvious reason why there seems to be a crisis of democracy in Britain. At 59.4 per cent, the turnout in the 2001 election was the lowest in over half a century. And it is not just at general elections that turnout has fallen. They has also been constantly lower at local and European elections held since 1997. But voting at elections is only one way of participating in politics. Turnout at the last 3 elections has been very poor at 65 % comparing to the usual 70-80% in the average between 1945 and 1997. The number of people going to see their MP from 16% to 13%, which is a 20% drop. The party membership has decreased hugely from 2.5 million in 1964 for the conservations to fewer than 500 thousand today. All numbers and statistics show how much amount of political participation in the U.K. has dropped over the last 40 years.

Development of democracy is often taken to mean rising political participation in an open society. xxx has highlighted the importance of election, stating that it has been the principal means of achieving both representation and accountability. The elections are the important to determine the level of citizen participation as their outcomes can change the contours of politics of who governs the state. If few people participate in elections, then the state will lose its legitimacy and it will not be able to persuade its citizens to cooperate in the tasks of governing. The democratic accountability is also unlikely to work properly as the government will be able to take actions which contrary to the wishes of the most people without being much concern about a citizen backlash. They become less trusting of government, and those who do not trust government are somewhat less likely to vote.



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