Poll Candidates Greeted with Disillusionment on the Doorstep; with the Local Elections Just Two Days Away, HELEN BUCKINGHAM Asks If Apathy Is Going to Be the Real Winner

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN BUCKINGHAM

CANDIDATES for the local elections are becoming resigned to low voter turnout as they struggle to get residents interested in local issues.

With the number of people going to the polls declining year on year, there is a real fear there could beanothersignificant drop this year, with some candidates predicting turnout in Cardiff on Thursday could be as low as 30 per cent.

This is a marked contrast with the French presidential elections last yearwhen 85 per cent turned out to choose between Segolene Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy.

Candidates say they are battling apathy and disillusionment on the doorstep, with many blaming the Government's handling of the economic crisis. In particular, Labour councillors are worried voters will stay at home in protest over the abolition of the 10p tax rate.

Some campaigners say they have given up trying to talk around non-voters and say they are concentrating instead on retaining existing supporters and winning over opposition voters.

Labour councillor for Trowbridge and St Mellons Ralph Cook said: "The people we're talking to noware the people we know will vote and that's why we're talking to them. Our main aim is to reduce the vote for the opposition and increase our vote.

"Persuading people to vote is not something I try to do. I ask people if they're going to vote and if they're not they're not usually interested in talking to you. If theyarehappy totalk Iwill talk to them about why they're not voting but youcan't domuch more."

Plaid candidate in Grangetown Ioan Bellin, who has been canvassing across the city in the past month, agreed.

He said: "People do say: 'I'm not voting. …