The Audit of Political Engagement is the only annual health check on our democratic system. Now in its 10th year, each Audit measures the ‘political pulse’ of the nation, providing a unique benchmark to gauge public opinion across Great Britain with regard to the political system.
This year’s report explores a worrying decline in the public’s propensity to vote. Just 41% of the public now say that in the event of an immediate general election they would be certain to vote – a decline of seven percentage points in a year and the lowest level in the debate of the Audit. Twenty percent of people say they are certain not to vote. For young people, the picture is even worse; just 12% are certain to vote, down from 30% two years ago.
Combined with the low turnout levels at recent local elections and the disastrous turnout at the polls for Police and Crime Commissioners in November 2012, these findings are deeply worrying for the health of our democracy.
Also of significant concern are the low levels of understanding of our how our political system works. A series of true/false questions show that:
Given the active debates in 2012 about lowering the voting age, particularly for the referendum on Scottish independence, the now-abandoned plans to reform the House of Lords, and ongoing arguments about membership of the Europe Union, these findings are a sobering reflection on how little the public are cognisant of the workings of the British political system.
Audit 10 also tracks the public’s attitudes to MPs and Parliament where there are mixed results. Public attitudes towards MPs continue to decline with satisfaction with MPs is at its lowest level in the ten year Audit series:
Satisfaction with how Parliament works remains unchanged at 27% but the public do seem to think it is more effective in some key respects:
Copyright © 2014 Hansard Society • Charity No: 1091364 • Registration No: 4332105.
Data protection, comments, cookies and copyright policies and information on image rights