WHETHER you voted Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, National Health Action Party or Ukip on Thursday, the real winner was democracy.

In the most hotly-contested General Election in a generation, polling stations said they saw turnouts like they had not seen in years.

People across our region queued to get in and cast their ballot at their local school, pub or laundrette, many of them for more than an hour.

Anyone who complained about voter apathy in 2010 had little to complain about this time.

Even when all the extra people turned out to vote, Oxfordshire still returned a sea of Tory blue.

Many assumed that with so many other parties vying for our votes, they would surely dent the Conservative majority.

It goes to show that in order to win our votes, parties have to do more than get publicity and join the leaders’ debate.

Everyone can agree that the more parties there are, the healthier our democracy is; now they just need to come up with the policies to win our votes in future.

Meanwhile, those elected this time round, at whatever layer of government, have the responsibility of tackling the many challenges in our region.