chapter  7
Electoral geographies
Pages 18

Elections and the way they are organised are fundamental to the make-up of all democratic societies; they also profoundly affect their social and political geography, in that they provide the means by which people are represented in government. Voting gives people a voice, but the way constituencies at all spatial scales – local, regional, national, and even supra national – are organised is critical in deciding how their voices will be heard and acted upon. As George Eliot noted in her novel Felix Holt, elections are the one real opportunity for the people to call to account the executive that normally rules their lives. There are, of course, many other factors which also influence elections, in particular who is eligible to vote, the voting system used, and the frequency with which elections are held, but also the size and shape of constituencies is critical, because quite small demographic shifts can impact radically on the distribution of political power.