Broadly turnout is declining in all elections in the Western world. Some countries are impacted more severely by the trend (the US and Britain) and some elections prompt more interest than others (a UK General Election v a UK local council election) but the simple fact is we don’t vote as often as we used to (political scientists point to the 1950s as the golden age of mass political participation).
European Union elections historically have received relatively low turnouts in the United Kingdom. Some commentators have suggested this is because the EU is a remote institution that we don’t know or care about and can’t see how it impacts on us.
However, this article suggests (to coin a phrase usually associated with the Confederate south in the US Civil War) that EU elections may be dying from democracy and that it is the very fair and democratic nature of the party list electoral system that is actually putting people off.
This is a really good example for questions asking you to evaluate electoral systems but also questions on declining turnout and participation.
Questions on why some Prime Ministers are more powerful than others are why are staples of the Unit 2 AS exam and candidates throughout the country have spent the last 14 years explaining that Thatcher and Blair were powerful effective leaders and figures such as Major, Heath and Brown were not.
However a new book by Professor Archie Brown ‘The Myth of the Strong Leader’ calls this into account. The Democratic Audit Blog has published an interview with Professor Brown in which he highlights some of the ideas covered in the book.
The EU Parliament elections are due to take place in May. Since 1999 EU Parliamentary elections have used the party list electoral system.
This post on the LSE Politics Blog outlines some of the problems with the very large and complicated ballot papers associated with this system.
It has lots of excellent points if you are answering a question asking you to evaluate electoral systems.