British Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 179–201

Electoral modernisation or elite statecraft: Electoral administration in the United Kingdom 1997–2007

  • Toby S James
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/bp.2009.31

Cite this article as:
James, T. Br Polit (2010) 5: 179. doi:10.1057/bp.2009.31


Since coming to power in 1997 New Labour has introduced an enormous number of constitutional changes. Yet one aspect of change that has been frequently overlooked are those made to electoral administration, which had previously been largely unaltered since the 1918 Representation of the People Act. This article outlines the changes made, seeks to explain the forces behind these changes and offers a theoretical model capable of explaining these and other broader constitutional reforms. It argues that ‘modernisation’, social change and declining political participation were important forces for change, but that ultimately it was party interest that guided the actions of Labour Party elites. As such, it is fruitful to consider the reform process as elite statecraft by using the theoretical model developed by Jim Bulpitt.


electoral administration election reform election law constitutional reform statecraft elite theory 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toby S James
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political and Cultural StudiesSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK

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