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    Political Disengagement and Spaces of Neglect in the Current Political System

    Durkan, William (2021) Political Disengagement and Spaces of Neglect in the Current Political System. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

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    Voter turnout measures the legitimacy of functioning democratic processes within States. Areas of low or declining voter turnout highlight spaces of disengagement from formal political processes and are a legitimate cause for concern. Political disengagement has the potential to create spaces of inequality in terms of the level of political representation a given area or group in society receives, and as such, can create spaces of neglect in the political system. This thesis examines General Elections 2007-2016, Local Elections 2014-19 and the 2019 By-Election to identify trends across a range of election types, account for context-specific influences, and highlight areas of concern. This thesis utilises both marked electoral register and census data to examine registered and voting-age population voter turnout levels. These figures allow detailed examination of voter engagement, while taking account of electoral register accuracy concerns. Spatial statistical models provide an examination of socio-economic, demographic, and geographical influences which shape voter turnout trends. The thesis associates areas of low or declining turnout with areas that have high levels of social deprivation, unemployment, and younger and transient populations, as well as low education levels. It also identifies low levels of engagement across election types in areas that have significant foreign-born and Traveller communities, highlighting the potential under-representation of vulnerable groups in society. This thesis investigates the traditional urban/rural divide in turnout levels for General Election 2016, demonstrating that this effect exists independently of an area’s socio-economic and demographic profile. The impact of other geographical factors is noted in all case studies. Candidate location and recent boundary changes impact directly on turnout levels; factors which call into question the boundary revision process. This thesis utilises a range of advanced spatial statistical methods, as well as expert interviews, to identify the outlined trends and suggest potential mechanisms to address areas of concern.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Political Disengagement; Spaces; Neglect; Current Political System; Voter Turnout; Political Disengagement; Representational Equality; Candidate Location; Boundary Revisions;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Geography
    Item ID: 14875
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 11:27
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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