Local council elections will take place across Greater Manchester on Thursday May 22 and give voters a chance to decide who runs their local services, ranging from bin collections to children and adult services.
The local elections are an opportunity for people to send a message to the national parties and have traditionally been seen as a vote of confidence.
This year, voters will also be voting in the European elections to select an MEP to serve in Brussels for the next five years.
It is the only time outside of a general election when all 46 million UK voters can take part.
The European elections are important because the European Parliament is the only directly-elected body in the European Union and so is the only opportunity voters get to decide who will represent their interests in Europe.
But over the last few decades turn-out at both the Euro elections and the local elections has been low – under 10% in some cases.
Here at MM, we took to the streets of Manchester to ask:
Do you know there are elections taking place next week and do you intend to vote?
Do you know there is an election next week?
Of the total number of people asked, only one in five said they definitely intended to vote.
Housing Officer, Jean Morgan, 61, from Marple, was one of many who did not know there is an election and that she would not be voting.
“I have never voted in my life,” she said.
“I do not know why politicians make the decisions they make. It does not make any difference what we say.”
On the other hand, Altringham fitter Arek Ziolokski, 43, would be voting.
“It is my first chance to vote here,” he said.
“I think it is my chance to change something. People, the older generation, fought for the right to vote so it is important that we vote.”
Most people, however, were more ambivalent.
Olly Bellamy, a 31-year-old event manager from Sheffield, said: “I have been so busy during the last month and it doesn’t seem important to me.”
Oldham customer service assistant, Michelle Pollitt, 48, stated he may vote.
“I don’t know who I am going to vote for yet, I keep changing my mind,” he said.
“I don’t think it really makes any difference.”
Similar views were voiced by Jonathon Maxwell, 28, a cleaner from Newton Heath.
“I may vote, if I am not at work. It is quite important to vote but work is more important.”
These elections are the last before the general election in May 2015 and there is a lot at stake for the political leaders.
Generally, the party who gets the biggest share of the vote is seen as the winner – in 2009 this was the Tories but a lot has happened since then.
Polls show that it is a straight shoot-out between Labour and relative newcomers UKIP at the moment.
If Ed Milliband is going to convince people he is a credible alternative to the Coalition, a party victory next Thursday could be crucial.
For UKIP, the stakes are equally as high as they attempt to live up to the predictions of the polls and beat the Tories, which would greatly strengthen their claim to be the third biggest party in the UK.
For the Tories, third place behind UKIP could well cause serious disruption among the party.
As for the Lib Dems – they may well suffer their worse electoral defeat for many years and it could signal a humiliating end to their first period in government since early last century.
Although these elections can make a huge difference, people on the streets of Manchester seemed unaware they could play such a pivotal role.
Dawn Foster, 56, who works in the box office of Buxton Opera House, said: “I am not clear as to why I am not going to vote but it is not as interesting as a general election. It is just a money making organisation.”
Manchester barista, Ryan Kay, said he did not know there is an election and did not expect to vote.
“I am not really a voting person,” he explained.
“Whoever I vote for, the world will still not go round as smoothly as I would like.”
Paul, 23 an administrator from Manchester, did know there is an election but felt much the same way.
“I did know that there was one coming up but I am too busy – it is just something that I am not interested in.”
There were some people, however, who were more positive about the political process.
Discretionary payment officer Margaret Ozturk, 52, from Bolton, is unable to vote as she is the presiding officer at a polling station and has not registered for a postal vote, but said: “My husband will be voting, though.”
Lisa White, 59, from Chorley, who is a fund raising officer for the Child Brain Injury Trust, said she knew that there is an election and would certainly be voting.
“I don’t think that we have the right to moan unless we put our point forward.”
From a local point of view, it is unlikely that there will be any great political shocks on Thursday – most of the 36 Metropolitan boroughs are strongly Labour and Greater Manchester is no different.
Nationally however, the elections could well have a significant effect on the political landscape.
Image courtesy of Joh Keane, with thanks