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The Slow Death of a Governing Party: the Erosion of Conservative Local Electoral Support in England 1979–97

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Abstract:

This article first describes the decline in Conservative Party representation in local government over the period 1979–97. It then explores a number of factors to account for the nature and depth of that decline, including: differential abstention; the desertion of heartland voters; tactical voting at local level; and electoral bias. Clearly, the Conservatives’ performance at local elections was worse than might have been expected given the party’s overall electoral popularity. It appears that Conservative council candidates largely fell victim to the changing pattern of party competition and the apparent ability of rival parties to target seats more effectively. Furthermore, the impact of these factors was compounded by the operation of biases within the electoral system.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-856X.t01-1-00005

Affiliations: 1: Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre, University of Plymouth crallings@plym.ac.uk 2: Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre, University of Plymouth mtthrasher@plym.ac.uk 3: School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol r.johnston@bristol.ac.uk

Publication date: June 1, 2002

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