Mayoral Elections 2017

How can we use the mayoral election results in the exams?

6 new mayors were elected (Conservatives won 4, Labour 2). This is particularly useful for:

Unit 1 Elections: The electoral system used was SV. In the case of the Labour victories in Manchester and Liverpool, no second round of votes was required, since the Labour candidate won over 50%. However, in other cases the vote was very close; in Tees Valley the Conservative candidate had only a 481 vote lead after the first round, but was able to extend it once second preferences were applied. In no case did the second preferences change the winner (i.e. nobody was able to come from second place and win). Also, all posts were won by the two big parties – this is often a feature of SV since it removes all but the top two candidates after the first round, confirming two party dominance.

Unit 1 Democracy & Participation: Turnout was very low – just 21% in Tees Valley and only Cambridgeshire exceeded 30%. This raises questions about a participation crisis and low levels of democratic engagement, as well as the mandate of the victors.

Furthermore, the very creation of the new ‘metro-mayor’ posts is useful as evidence for enhancing democracy. The powers of these mayors varies considerable, with Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester the most powerful. By some measures, Burnham will now have more power than the mayor of London, his Labour colleague Sadiq Khan. He will have various Greater Manchester-wide powers and responsibilities including for the fire service, transport, planning and housing and those previously held by the police and crime commissioner (PCC) who lost his job the moment the result was announced. He is also be the only elected mayor in the UK to have oversight of the health and social care budget, newly integrated and worth £6bn. This is a good example of local devolution and making the UK more democratic.

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