EU POLL: Turnout less than a third in most of Gwent
Updated 5:32pm Friday 23rd May 2014 in News
10.13am: TURNOUT in the European Elections registered at below 30 per cent in all of Gwent’s Valleys counties during polling on Thursday.
While more than 30 per cent came out to vote in Newport and Monmouthshire, between 27 and 29 per cent ventured into the rain, hail and lightning in either Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen or Caerphilly.
No result will be known from the election until all other EU countries have had their say – and Wales’ Euro candidates won’t know what parties have come out top until Sunday night.
However councils have been able to release turnout figures following verification of the vote.
The worst turnout was seen in Blaenau Gwent where council reported just 27 per cent of the electorate had taken part.
Both Caerphilly and Torfaen saw a 29 per cent turnout.
In Newport the authority gave a provisional turnout figure of 31 per cent, while in Monmouthshire the council said turnout was 34 per cent.
UPDATE 10:42am: Figures show that this year’s turnout hasn’t changed greatly from 2009's Euro election when around 30 per cent of the electorate in Gwent took part.
Blaenau Gwent council said in 2009 it saw a 27.39 per cent turnout, while Newport council said 29 per cent of Newport West voters turned out that year while 31 per cent of Newport East voters took part.
In the Monmouth constituency 36.9 per cent voted, according to figures from the House of Commons Library, which also showed that 20.9 per cent voted in Islwyn and 27.5 per cent took part in Torfaen.
Figures are given for MPs' areas rather than local authorities as the 2009 election was broken down to constituencies – while this year the count is taking place on a local authority basis before the results are handed to Pembrokeshire.
The whole of Wales saw a turnout of 30.4 per cent in 2009.
UPDATE 1.12pm: The overall turnout for Wales in yesterday's poll was 32 per cent, according to Pembrokeshire County Council.
That is up on the turnout of the around 30 per cent turnout in 2009, but only just.
The national figures revealed Blaenau Gwent had the joint worst turnout in Wales with Methyr Tydfil at 27 per cent.
Nick Smith, Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, said: “It’s a pity the turnout was lower as the European elections are important ones.
“I hope that Labour gets over 50 per cent of the vote this time as that will be a big boost compared to last time.
“We do expect the smaller parties to pick up support as there’s no doubt that things are very volatile at the moment.
“Over the next year as we go towards the general election campaign we’ll be working hard to get the message across that Labour stands up for the people of South Wales and taking on the Tories”.
Steve Brooks, director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru, said: "Whilst this low turn-out is far from surprising it should provide a wake-up call that business as usual cannot carry on.
“Interest in European affairs has rarely been higher in the minds of voters, yet the scene of empty polling stations this week highlights the lack of enthusiasm voters have in European democracy.
"Whoever is elected this weekend must commit to being a loud voice in Brussels for democratic reform. We need to give the Assembly and Westminster a greater role in scrutinising UK ministers attending high-level European meetings. We need to slim down the super sized European Commission, and end the arrangement where the European Parliament sits in Strasbourg for some of the time".
UPDATE 4.17pm: Jayne Bryant, Newport-based no.2 candidate for Welsh Labour, said the 32 per cent turnout was “not surprising” and added: “We have worked hard for every vote, and I am humbled by the sheer number of Labour members who fought through the wind, rain and hail yesterday to get voters to the polling stations.”
Nathan Gill, the lead candidate for UKIP, said: “I think people that want to vote UKIP will have done so because it’s something people feel strongly about,” he said, adding he was “very hopeful” of topping the Welsh poll.
Plaid MEP Jill Evans, who is fighting to retain her seat, said: “To have fewer than one third of electors vote in this European election is very disappointing, and all political parties must take responsibility for getting more people engaged in politics and to vote in future, especially younger people.
"At the moment, it isn't clear if any particular party will benefit from the low turnout.”
A Conservative spokeswoman said: “Although the turnout was disappointing, it was also encouraging in that it was slightly better than it was in 2009 overall.”
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