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Scots’ interest in politics reaches all-time high

20 April 2016 | Tags: Scotland, Scottish Independence, Scottish Social Attitudes

Interest in politics in Scotland is at its highest level since the advent of the Scottish Parliament, according to new figures from ScotCen’s Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey published today.

ScotCen researchers found that 40% of people in Scotland have ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of interest in politics This represents a five-point increase on the figure in summer 2014, immediately before the independence referendum, and is higher than at any time since ScotCen first asked the question in 1999.

In 1999, 24% of Scots expressed an interest in politics. By 2005, that figure had risen to around a third and it was still much the same level in 2013 (32 %).

But in the summer of 2014, by which time Scotland had already been intensively debating independence for many months, the proportion who expressed a strong interest in politics was up to 35%. Now, following on from the independence referendum and the SNP landslide in last year’s general election, the level of interest in politics has not only been sustained, but has risen to 40%, a 5 point increase on the 2014 figure.

Who is most interested?

ScotCen’s survey also reveals some differences between groups in Scottish society:

  • Young shrug: 30% of those aged 18-29 now say they are interested in politics, but 41% say that have little or no interest. Older people are still more likely to be interested in politics than younger people: 45% of people aged 65 and over said they had ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a lot’ of interest in politics.
  • Gender divide: In 2015, almost half (49%) of men say they are interested in politics, compared to 31% of women.
  • A degree of interest: Graduates are more than twice as likely to say they are interested in politics (51%) compared to those with no qualifications (24%).

Anna Marcinkiewicz, Researcher at ScotCen Social Research said:

”The striking thing about these findings is that interest in politics is apparently at a record high well after the referendum was over. This suggests that the high levels of public participation in the referendum may have generated a longer-term increase in political engagement in Scotland, as was evident in the seven point increase in turnout in last year's general election. It will be interesting to see if the higher interest also translates into higher voter turnout for the Scottish Parliament elections and EU referendum later this year.”


Data tables containing the SSA findings are available on request.

For more information contact Sophie Brown 0207 549 9550 or  or Leigh Marshall 0207 549 8506/07828 031850 or

Notes to editors

ScotCen Social Research is an independent, not for profit organisation. We believe that social research has the power to make life better. By really understanding the complexity of people’s lives and what they think about the issues that affect them, we give the public a powerful and influential role in shaping decisions and services that can make a difference to everyone.

The Scottish Social Attitudes survey aims to produce high quality survey data to inform both public policy and academic study. It has a long time series (dating back to 1999) on public attitudes towards devolution and independence. Further details about ScotCen Social Research and the Scottish Social Attitudes survey are available at

The 2015 Scottish Social Attitudes survey interviewed a representative random probability sample of 1,288 people between July 2015 and January 2016. Data are weighted to reflect known patterns of non-response bias and the age and gender profile of the Scottish population.