EU referendum turnout could be damaged by Westminster ‘games’

The study found that 40 per cent of people would be more likely to turn out to vote if they had more information. Picture: Neil Hanna

The study found that 40 per cent of people would be more likely to turn out to vote if they had more information. Picture: Neil Hanna

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The “Westminster parlour games” over the EU referendum could lead to a low turnout in the crucial vote, electoral reform campaigners have warned.

Although 68 per cent of the public say they are interested in the June 23 vote, just 23 per cent said they felt well-informed about the issues, according to research commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS).

The poll by BMG Research indicated that 40 per cent of people would be more likely to turn out to vote if they had more information.

ERS chief executive Katie Ghose said: “This polling shows that contrary to the popular narrative, the public aren’t bored by the EU debate - in fact, there are high levels of interest, with seven in 10 saying they are following the conversation.

“Yet there is a real desire for balanced information from both sides - under a quarter of people say they have a good level of understanding about the referendum issues.

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“The public feel left in the dark by an EU referendum debate that has so far focused largely on personality politics and internal party spats - more than the actual issues at stake.

“We are at risk of seeing a toxic cocktail of high levels of interest but a lack of balanced information in the debate. And that could lead to a low turnout for the referendum itself. The public need the facts, but all they are seeing so far is Westminster parlour games.

“The fact that a large proportion of the public say that if they had more information they’d be more likely to vote shows that the appetite is there to create a genuinely vibrant and well-informed EU debate.”

The ERS will be launching a “better referendum” online tool to help people make their choice and have made a series of recommendations to the rival campaigns - including a “ceasefire week” where both sides only put out the positive cases for their arguments.

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The BMG survey of 1,518 UK adults found 32 per cent said they were “very interested” in the referendum and 36 per cent declaring they were “interested”.

But just 7 per cent said they were “very well informed” and 16 per cent felt they were “well informed”.

Some 23 per cent said they would be “much more likely to vote” if they had more information about the main issues, while 16 per cent said they were “a little more likely to vote”.

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