'Astonishing' Turnout Breaks UK Voting Records

'Astonishing' Turnout Breaks UK Voting Records

Politicians have hailed the "incredible" turnout in the Scottish referendum after a campaign that energised voters across the country.

A total of 3,619,915 people voted Yes or No - a turnout of 84.5% in Scotland as a whole and a new record for any election held in the UK since the introduction of universal suffrage in 1918.

Turnout reached 91% in East Dunbartonshire, 90.4% in East Renfrewshire and 90.1% in Stirling.

But participation was lower in some of the key areas where the Yes campaign was relying on support in large numbers, including Glasgow (75%) and Dundee (78.8%).

As he conceded defeat, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told supporters: "The process by which we have made our decision as a nation reflects enormous credit upon Scotland.

"A turnout of 86% is one of the highest in the democratic world for any election or any referendum in history - this has been a triumph for the democratic process and for participation in politics."

His deputy Nicola Sturgeon said: "This campaign has been a joy to be part of, it's quite unlike anything I've ever been part of in my life before.

"As have thousands and thousands of others, I have given my heart and soul to this campaign but what has been amazing are the number of people who have never been involved in politics before, who have never campaigned as part of a political movement before, who have got involved."

The previous record turnout for a UK-wide election was 83.9% in the 1950 general election.

In Scotland, the record was 81.2% - set by the 1951 general election, when Winston Churchill's Conservatives defeated Labour - ousting Clement Atlee as Prime Minister.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar, from the Better Together campaign, said voters had set politicians a challenge to respond to the desire for change.

He said: "What we are all struck by, whether Yes or No campaigners or supporters, is the incredible turnout that we've seen in this referendum campaign.

"The challenge for all of us is to tap into that real desire for change and to take on the task of unifying our country whatever the result, and bringing people together to create a better future for ourselves and for future generations."

Speaking from the Edinburgh count, Scottish Socialist Party spokesman Colin Fox, a key figure in Yes Scotland, said: "The big story tonight is the astonishing levels of turnout in a political contest in Scotland, which is on a par with North Korea, China, Cuba and those places.

"I think it's remarkable and I certainly want to pay tribute to the Yes campaigners who over the last two years have energised this country.

"Clearly both sides of the campaign deserve credit for those levels of turnout."

Commenting on the relatively lower turnout in Glasgow in comparison with other areas, Mr Fox said: "Glasgow's turnout in the Scottish Parliament elections is usually 40% and it is now 75%, so that's not to be sniffed at.

"Let's hope we can keep it at that level, I think it's astonishing. Nearly doubling the turnout in Glasgow is a significant achievement for Scotland's biggest city, with the greatest deprivation and the biggest social problems."

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