Paper summary: Politics
Political attitudes and behaviour in the wake of an intense constitutional debate
Since 2010 the UK has experienced coalition government and referendums on both
electoral reform and Scottish independence. This chapter examines what effect these major
constitutional developments have had on public attitudes and turnout in the 2015 general
Mismatch between views on coalition government and attitudes towards electoral reform
On the one hand, voters continue to be relatively sceptical of the merits of coalition
government, yet are now more supportive of changing the electoral system than ever.
- In 2010 the public mood swung strongly against having a coalition; support now stands at 33% (compared with 59% favouring single-party government).
- Despite this, a new record high of 45% say they are in favour of changing the electoral system (to one fairer to smaller parties), up from 27% in 2011.
No English backlash to Scottish independence debate
The independence referendum and its aftermath resulted in a higher level of support for
independence in Scotland – but no sign of a backlash in England.
- At 39%, support for independence in Scotland is at its highest level since 1999, up from 23% in 2012.
- While in England 63% support ‘English votes for English laws’ this figure has not increased since the Scottish independence referendum.
Political engagement increased, but not turnout
Despite a relatively low turnout (66%) at the 2015 election, there are signs that people are somewhat more committed to the political process.
People have become more likely to feel a duty to vote, to be interested in politics and to feel a strong sense of attachment to a political party. However, those without a strong sense of political commitment were particularly likely to stay at home at the 2015 general election.
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