Voter turnout in mayoral elections

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1 Bart Somers, Mechelen, Belgium

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6 Mirjam van 't Veld, Amstelveen Netherlands

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International comparison of voter
turnout in mayoral elections

8 May 2017: Devolution of economic power from London to the English regions and the creation of regional/metro mayors was the flagship political initiative of Britain’s 2010-to-2015 coalition government. The first group of English regional mayors, who will have considerably political and economic clout, was elected on 4 May 2017 by a decidedly unenthusiastic electorate. Only in one region, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, was voter turnout above 30 per cent. In Tees Valley, an area, which includes the cities of Darlington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, just above 21 per cent of voters bothered to take part in the election, meaning that the new Conservative mayor was elected by less than 15 per cent of the electorate. A strong mandate it is not.

However, voters’ interest in municipal affairs is even lower in the US. The below figures show that mayoral elections in some the country’s largest cities attract seldom more than 30 per cent of people eligible to vote. In Dallas only six per cent of voters took part in the mayoral election.

Voter participation in German mayoral elections is usually between 40 and 50 per cent, while in Italy turnout between 50 and 60 per cent is not uncommon.

In Japan, the average voter turnout in the 62 mayoral elections in 2015 stood at a record low of 50.5 per cent, down from the last round of mayoral elections held in 2011, which saw an average 53 per cent turnout rate. Average turnout for city assembly elections also fell to 49 per cent, and dropped to 69 per cent for mayoral elections of towns and villages. In Tokyo’s 2016 gubernatorial election, however, turnout increased from 46 to 59 per cent.

International comparison of voter
turnout in mayoral elections

Countries and Cities
Date of elections
Voter turnout (1)
Politics of mayors
ENGLAND:
REGIONAL MAYORS
Cambridgeshire & Peterborough May 2017
32.9%
Conservative
Greater Manchester May 2017
28.6%
Labour
Liverpool City Region May 2017
25.8%
Labour
Tees Valley May 2017
21.3%
Conservative
West Midlands May 2017
26.7%
Conservative
West of England May 2017
29.3%
Conservative
ENGLAND:
CITY MAYORS
London May 2016
45.3%
Labour
Bristol May 2016
24.0%
Labour
Liverpool May 2016
30.9%
Labour
Salford May 2016
30.9%
Labour
Hackney (London) September 2016
18.6%
Labour
Lewisham (London) May 2014
37.2%
Labour
Mansfield May 2015
57.9%
Independent
Watford May 2014
37.0%
Liberal Democrats
Doncaster May 2017
28.9%
Labour
North Tyneside May 2017
34.0%
Labour
GERMANY:
CITY MAYORS
Aachen 2014
52.6%
Christian Democrats
Berlin 2016
66.7%
Social Democrats
Bonn 2015
45.1%
Christian Democrats
Bremen 2015
52.1%
Social Democrats
Cologne 2015
40.3%
Independent
Dresden 2015
42.7%
Free Democrats
Frankfurt 2012
35.1%
Social Democrats
Freiburg 2010
45.2%
Greens
Hamburg 2015
56.5%
Social Democrats
Hannover 2013
38.2%
Social Democrats
Munich 2014
42.1%
Social Democrats
Nuremberg 2014
44.3%
Social Democrats
Stuttgart 2012
47.2%
Greens
USA:
CITY MAYORS (2)
Atlanta 2013
19%
Democrat
Austin 2014
13%
Democrat
Boston 2013
30%
Democrat
Chicago 2015
33%
Democrat
Dallas 2015
6%
Democrat
Denver 2011
23%
Democrat
Detroit 2013
25%
Democrat
Houston 2015
18%
Democrat
Las Vegas 2010
9%
Independent
Los Angeles 2013
19%
Democrat
Miami 2013
12%
Republican
New York City 2013
14%
Democrat
Oklahoma City 2014
12%
Republican
Philadelphia 2015
24%
Democrat
San Francisco 2015
32%
Democrat
Seattle 2013
44%
Democrat
Washington DC 2015
20%
Democrat
ITALY:
CITY MAYORS
Trento 2015
60.1%
Centre-left
Aosta 2015
61.3%
Centre-left
Bolzano 2015
40.7%
Centre-left
Trieste 2016
46.4%
Centre-right
Turin 2016
54.4%
Populist
Milan 2016
54.7%
Centre-left
Bologna 2016
53.2%
Centre-left
Rome 2016
50.1%
Populist
Naples 2016
36.0%
Centrist

(1) In cases of two rounds of voting, the above figures represent the turnout in the second round.
(2) Data supplied by Portland State University.

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