Friday, April 23, 2010

The Clegg effect

Nick Clegg's appearance in the UK's first televised election debate hasn't just resulted in a surge in popularity for the LibDems and a real chance of a hung Parliament (and hence consensus policy and electoral reform) - it's also had another benefit: a surge in voter registrations:

The number of people registering to vote has increased markedly, adding a new generation of voters to the electorate and making the outcome of the election even more volatile, according to a survey of marginal constituencies conducted by the Guardian.

Figures collected from more than 20 of the most marginal areas following Tuesday's deadline to register to vote indicate across-the-board increases in the electorate, compared with the last general election, suggesting that turnout could soar on 6 May.

In one area, the increase is as high as 17%, and there are also indications of a dramatic surge in people requesting postal votes.

And you can see why. Previously, people only had something to vote against: either a corrupt, tired, uninspiring government, or a corrupt, nasty, vicious opposition. Both were fatally tainted by the expenses scandal, and the general attitude was "a plague on both your houses". Now Clegg has given them something to vote for: change - with the added bonus of giving the finger to the two main parties. No wonder they're lining up to vote.