Research shows Scottish political engagement now even higher than during indyref


Survey which looks at Scottish social attitudes has revealed that a record breaking number of Scots are interested in Scottish politics

WITH LESS THAN three weeks to go until the Holyrood election, new research has suggested that Scottish political engagement is at its highest ever level.

The independence referendum in September 2014 saw new levels of enthusiasm and participation in Scottish politics but, according to research carried out by the ScotCen social research project, the number of Scots participating has continued to grow.

The survey revealed that 40 per cent of Scots have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of interest in politics.

“The striking thing about these findings is that interest in politics is apparently at a record high well after the referendum was over.” Anna Marcinkiewicz, ScotCen

The research, which emerged from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey, suggests political engagement is the highest it has been since the formation of the ScotCen Survey in 1999, and is five points higher than when it was conducted in the summer of 2014, just ahead of the independence referendum in September.

When the Scottish Parliament was formed in 1999, only 24 per cent of Scots expressed an interest in politics, but as public discontent within the UK continues (with only 18 per cent of Scots admitting to trusting the UK to make fair decisions) this number has increased.

ScotCen researcher Anna Marcinkiewicz was quoted in the Herald as saying : “The striking thing about these findings is that interest in politics is apparently at a record high well after the referendum was over.

“This suggests that the high levels of public participation in the referendum may have generated a longer-term increase in political engagement in Scotland, as was evident in the seven point increase in turnout in last year’s general election.”

The research also showed that there is a split vote on who has the most influence in Scottish politics, with 42 per cent saying the UK and 41 per cent saying the Scottish Government.

Surv stats fin

With only a 50.4 per cent turnout at the Scottish parliamentary elections in 2011, Marcinkiewicz speculated on whether the increase in political interest will transpire in the number of voters on election day.

“It will be interesting to see if the higher interest also translates into higher voter turnout for the Scottish Parliament elections and EU referendum later this year,” she said.

Gender plays a part in political participation, according to the results, with 49 per cent of men interested in politics compared with 31 per cent of women. Those who have graduated are around twice as likely to be politically active as people without qualifications.

The data came from the same survey which recently revealed support for Scottish independence reaching a 15-year high and more than two fifths (43 per cent) of those surveyed saying independence would benefit Scotland’s economy.

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