The Steeples stay at home

Probably the single most striking fact about the 2010 General Election was the turnout in Fermanagh South Tyrone.
Using the usual sources:
Nic Whyte, The BBC (a nice controlled victory speech by Ms Gildernew) and Wiki.

We can track the turnout in FST in all elections since 1950:
1950 : 92%, 1951 : 93%, 1955 : 93%, 1959 : 62%, 1964 : 86%, 1966 : 86%, 1970 : 92%, 1974 : 88%, 1974 : 89%, 1979 : 87%, 1981 : 87%, 1981 : 89%, 1983 : 89%, 1986 : 81%, 1987 : 80%, 1992 : 79%, 1997 : 75%, 2001 : 78%, 2005 : 73%, 2010 : 69%.

The late, much lamented, Horseman describes each psephological episode wonderfully well here.
For my purposes a few diversions to begin with:
1) 1959 turnout was low due to nationalist boycott of Sinn Féin due to the Border Campaign so we can ignore that outlier.
2) There were significant boundary changes pre 1997 General Election. It’s probably reasonable to assume a one off drop as party machines found their feet.
3) I must admit I hadn’t realised that the turnout in the second 1981 by-election was higher than the first.
4) I’ll take advice from anyone wiser than myself but don’t think the tightening up of identification processes would have had as significant effect here as in more urban areas.

So, what have we got?
1) From 1950 to 1983 everyone voted in FST unless they were dead, ill, mad or had moved away.
2) From 1983 to 2010 there has been a dramatic decline reaching a point this year when, in the most competitive constituency in the whole election, about 13,000 healthy and sane individuals abstained. That’s a new political phenomenon.


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