AS voters head to the polls across Kirklees today, a leading Huddersfield academic has called for a dramatic change to boost turnout.
Council elections are taking place in Wales and many parts of England.
But Dr Pete Woodcock, senior politics lecturer at Huddersfield University, fears turnout could be only 30% in Kirklees.
He said: “I think directly-elected mayors - as in London - reinvigorate democracy.
“I may be in a minority in holding this view, but I think you need this link between the population and the executive.”
Nationally, Dr Woodcock expects the Tories to perform well.
He said: “We’re likely to see a swing to the Conservatives. They have been ahead in the opinion polls so they will want to do considerably well.”
The Lib Dems are fighting their first election with Nick Clegg as their leader. Dr Woodcock thinks they have to avoid being squeezed.
He said: “Some Lib Dem voters switched over from the Tories in the early 90s - they’re the blue-rinse Lib Dems if you like. Nick Clegg has to make sure that they don’t switch back.”
As for Labour, Dr Woodcock said: “Gordon Brown will be looking for hope from the results.”
He added that he didn’t expect the Greens or the British National Party to make a breakthrough.