As discussed elsewhere, voter turnout is an important indicator of levels of political participation. The most obvious example of this is turnout for general elections. In 1992, 78% of the electorate turned out to vote, but by 2001 this had fallen to a postwar low of 59%. The 2010 general election saw a small recovery to 65%.
When writing answers on participation, it would be useful for students to refer to turnout in other types of UK elections as well as those those for the Westminster Parliament. If we look at local elections, turnout can be pretty disastrous. In 2008 for example, the average turnout was 35%; in 2000 it was only 29%. UK elections to the European Parliament fare little better, with 35% turning out to vote in 2009, 39% in 2004, and a paltry 24% in 1999. And what about the 2011 referendum to change the UK’s electoral system to AV? Only 42% of people were sufficiently enthused to pop down to their local polling station to exercise their democratic right.
All of this data is suggestive of a decline in political participation. Having a range of turnout data from local, national, and European elections will no doubt impress the examiner.