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Low 2024 General Election turnout across Nottinghamshire could lead to ‘democratic legitimacy’ problems says political expert from Nottingham Trent University





The low turnout in last week’s General Election could threaten the legitimacy of political leaders if the trend continues, a Nottingham politics expert has warned.

Every Nottinghamshire constituency saw fewer people go to the polls for the 2024 vote than at the last General Election in 2019.

Just under 60 per cent of UK voters overall turned out as the Labour party won a landslide victory nationally – down from 67 per cent previously and the lowest for more than two decades.

Newark vote count on General Election night.
Newark vote count on General Election night.

Nottingham North & Kimberley had the lowest turnout in the county with 48 per cent, while the highest was in Rushcliffe, where 73 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Dr Matthew Mokhefi-Ashton, a politics lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, said the figures weren’t surprising, but could bring winners’ legitimacy into question if they continued.

“A lot of people stayed home because they saw the polls predicting an absolute landslide for Labour, and they were steady throughout the campaign,” he said.

“Labour voters saw they were heading for a massive majority and the Conservative voters who didn’t switch to Reform saw they were in for a drubbing. Both said ‘why bother?’

“Turnout tends to be higher when the result is uncertain, such as 2017 and 2019.

“Lots of people didn’t like the Conservatives but didn’t like Starmer either. Candidates like Barack Obama in 2008 or Boris Johnson in 2019 can really get people enthusiastic.”

The results saw six blue seats turn red in Nottinghamshire, leaving the county with nine Labour MPs, one Conservative — Robert Jenrick in Newark — and one Reform.

“With our constituency system, people tend to vote for the party rather than the name by the box,” Dr Mokhefi-Ashton added.

“Ben Bradley [former Conservative MP who lost re-election in Mansfield] was quite high profile due to being council leader and his run for mayor, but other ‘Red Wall’ MPs had only had one term in office to make themselves known.

“Ideally, turnout would be in the seventies. It’s been on a downward trend for some time.

“Forty eight per cent turnout in Nottingham North isn’t highly unexpected in an election like this. Alex Norris is a longstanding MP in a safe Labour seat.

“But we should worry about democratic legitimacy if more elections start to fall below 50 per cent.”

He said there is no easy fix to boost participation in elections.

“A different electoral system may help to address the inequalities in First Past the Post [the current system whereby the one candidate with the most votes automatically wins]. But I can’t imagine Labour being in favour – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

“We could use a massive civic educational programme, encouraging people to see voting as a duty, not just a right.

“That tends to be more common amongst older generations, whereas younger people are often balancing studying and multiple jobs.

“People might see it better to engage with politics through marches and protests rather than the ballot box.

“There’s also widespread dissatisfaction with politicians. People tend to think they’re rascals who are up to no good.”

General Election turnout across the Advertiser area:

Newark

2024: 67 per cent

2019: 72 per cent

Sherwood Forest

2024: 62 per cent

2019: 67 per cent

Rushcliffe

2024: 73 per cent

2019: 79 per cent

General Election turnout across all other Nottinghamshire constituencies :

Ashfield

2024: 58 per cent

2019: 62 per cent

Bassetlaw

2024: 58 per cent

2019: 64 per cent

Broxtowe

2024: 67 per cent

2019: 75 per cent

Gedling

2024: 64 per cent

2019: 69 per cent

Mansfield

2024: 55 per cent

2019: 63 per cent

Nottingham East

2024: 53 per cent

2019: 60 per cent

Nottingham North & Kimberley (new constituency)

2024: 48 per cent

* Nottingham North 2019: 53 per cent

Nottingham South

2024: 51 per cent

2019: 61 per cent



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