Call for commission to address voter apathy

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Ministers face scathing Commons criticism today for their "extremely complacent" attitude to the fall in the number of people voting at elections.

The Commons Public Administration Select Committee called for the creation of a democracy commission to combat the "civic crisis" of the slump in voter turn-out.

Just 59 per cent of adults voted in the general election on 7 June, the lowest figure since 1918 when many men were away at war.

In a rare move, the committee published its strongly worded report to coincide with government assurances that it was attempting to increase voter participation. It said: "The situation has changed dramatically in the past few months as the crisis in public participation has deepened. The problem can be summed up in one stark statistic: 59 per cent. Not since the extension of suffrage in 1918 has there been such a low level of participation in the electoral process.

"We find it extraordinary that this collapse in electoral participation, put alongside other evidence on civic disengagement, has not been treated as a civic crisis demanding an immediate response."

The MPs called for the creation of a democracy commission "as a matter of urgency" to find ways of boosting voter turn-out. They denounced the Government for failing to set targets and deadlines for initiatives to reverse the decline in turn-out.