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2019 Mock Elections: Higher turnout and different outcome than the real general election

7 Jan 2020
School pupils in an assembly with their hands up

Schools making up an ‘electorate’ of over 46,000 young people returned their results to the Hansard Society's 2019 Mock Elections, which were held to coincide with the December general election and continued a series extending back over 50 years. Labour emerged as the clear 'winner' of the 2019 mock poll.

Dr Brigid Fowler, Senior Researcher, Hansard Society
,
Senior Researcher, Hansard Society

Dr Brigid Fowler

Dr Brigid Fowler
Senior Researcher, Hansard Society

Brigid joined the Hansard Society in December 2016 to lead its work on Parliament and Brexit, as well as contribute to its ongoing research on the legislative process, parliamentary procedure and scrutiny, and public political engagement. From 2007 to 2014 she was a Committee Specialist for the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, where she led on the Committee’s EU-related work. In the first six months of 2016 she was on the research team of Britain Stronger in Europe. She has also worked as assistant to an MEP in Brussels and as an analyst and researcher on EU and European affairs in the private sector and at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London.

After completing BA and MPhil degrees at the University of Oxford in PPE and European Politics, respectively, she spent the first part of her career focusing on the politics of post-communist transition and EU accession in Central Europe, and completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham on the case of Hungary. She has given media comment, appeared before select committees and published several journal articles and book contributions.

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‘Turnout’ across the participating schools was 72% – higher than the 67% figure for the real general election, and representing over 30,000 young people casting their vote.

The results differed markedly from the real general election outcome:

  • Labour emerged as the clear winner, with a 33.9% vote share.

  • The Liberal Democrats came second, with 20.5%.

  • The Conservatives were third, with 18.7%.

  • The Green Party was fourth, with 15.6%.

(The figures in this post differ marginally from those we announced on 12 December, owing to a number of schools submitting their results after the deadline for inclusion in the announcement on the evening of the general election.)

Across the participating schools, roughly equal numbers of candidates (between 55 and 59) stood for each of these four leading parties. Thirty-two candidates stood for the Brexit Party, which came fifth with 3.5% of the vote.

In total, over 300 pupils and students stood as candidates.

Forty-nine stood as candidates for made-up parties, as independents, or as candidates for parties falling outside the best-placed five, including the Pirate Party, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, UKIP and the Women's Equality Party. Of the made-up parties, several evidenced environmental priorities (the Save our World Party, the Exit Plastic Party), and others suggested local school-level concerns (the More Outside and Inside Equipment Party).

In Northumberland, Ponteland High's Mock Election was covered by ITV News Tyne Tees:

Meanwhile, Seaford College in Sussex made a video of its Mock Election and saw its poll covered in the local press.

Many other participating schools and teachers also shared images of their Mock Elections on social media:

One of the oldest and largest civic education projects anywhere in the world, Mock Elections has been run by the Hansard Society at every UK general election for over 50 years.

In 2019, the Society again made available a free download of all the resources teachers and pupils needed to run a mock poll.

Research has shown that participating in citizenship-related activities at school, such as mock elections, makes young people more likely to have positive attitudes towards political participation as adults and more likely to engage in political activity. This applies even when controlling for other relevant factors, such as higher levels of formal education.

Several candidates in the real 2019 general election, as well as former MPs and other prominent political figures, participated in mock elections when they were at school and were inspired to go on to Westminster.

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