By-Elections, Local Elections, Euro-Elections and Referendums

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore


General elections are the most significant and perhaps most exciting elections which take place in Britain, but they are of course by no means the only ones. Every year there are elections to local authorities, every four years to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly and every five years to the European Parliament. Parliamentary by-elections, and indeed local government by-elections, occur haphazardly throughout the year. Occasionally, too, there is the extra diversion of a referendum.


General Election County Council Opinion Poll Proportional Representation Local Election 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See Pippa Norris, British By Elections: The Volatile Electorate (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990),Google Scholar
  2. and Chris Cook and John Ramsden (eds), By-elections in British Politics (London: University College London Press, 1997), which both include accounts of many of the most significant by-elections of the twentieth century.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The standard work on local elections in Britain, by the accepted experts on the subject, Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, is Local Elections in Britain (London: Routledge, 1997). Results in detail for England and Wales are collected in the annual Local Elections Handbook, compiled by the same authors and published by Local Government Chronicle Communications; summary results are published in the annual British Elections and Parties Review (London: Frank Cass). For local elections in Scotland, results are collected by H. M. Bochel and D. T. Denver and published annually as The Scottish Council Elections: Results and Statistics (Newport on Tay: Election Studies). The House of Commons library now usually produces a research paper summarising each year’s results which is available on the Internet.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. For a more general study of the structure and functions of local government, see J. A. Chandler, Local Government Today, 3rd edition (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Detailed accounts of the first two Euro-election campaigns in Britain are given in David Butler and David Marquand, European Elections and British Politics (London: Macmillan, 1981)Google Scholar
  6. and David Butler and Paul Jowett, Party Strategies in Britain: A Study of the 1984 European Elections (London: Macmillan, 1985).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. More recent Euro-elections are described and analysed in David Butler and Martin Westlake, British Politics and European Elections 1994 (London: Macmillan, 1995)Google Scholar
  8. and David Butler and Martin Westlake, British Politics and European Elections 1999 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000). A volume on the 2004 elections by Butler and Westlake is forthcoming. Each election since 1984 has also been the subject of a special issue of the journal Electoral Studies.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 8.
    On the history, principles and structure of devolved government in Britain, see Vernon Bogdanor, Devolution in the United Kingdom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    On referendums in general, see Austin Ranney (ed.), The Referendum Device (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1981)Google Scholar
  11. and David Butler and Austin Ranney (eds), Referendums around the World: The Growing Use of Direct Democracy (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1994).Google Scholar
  12. For the constitutional context, see Vernon Bogdanor, Politics and the Constitution (Aldershot: Dartmouth Press, 1996), chapter 12. The Report of the Committee on the Conduct of Referendums (London: Constitution Unit, 1996) discusses the principles in a modern context.Google Scholar
  13. For studies of specific referendums: on the EEC referendum, see David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger, The 1975 Referendum (London: Macmillan, 1976),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Anthony King, Britain Says Yes (Washington DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1977)Google Scholar
  15. and Philip Goodhart, Full-Hearted Consent (London: Davis-Poynter, 1976);Google Scholar
  16. on the 1979 Scottish referendum, see The Referendum Experience, Scotland 1979, edited by Jean Bochel, David Denver and Alan MacCartney (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1981).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dick Leonard and Roger Mortimore 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dick Leonard
  • Roger Mortimore

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