The seat is based on the coastal town of Lowestoft, which today is generally Labour-voting, because of its recent history as a declining seaside resort, fishing and industrial town. However, the constituency also takes in the small towns of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth. These along with the smaller inland rural villages are considerably more supportive of Conservatives.
The seat was created in 1983 under the Act implementing the third periodic review of Westminster constituencies, broadly replacing Lowestoft, which the first victor of the new seat had served since 1959.
Waveney has been a bellwether since its creation, swinging heavily in line with the mood of the nation. Labour's big majority in 1997 reflected the large overall majority in the Commons, and by the 2010 election it had become touted by one published analysis as the seat that the Conservatives needed to win to secure an overall majority. Fittingly, 2010 saw a marginal majority and the national result was a hung parliament with the Conservative Party the largest party. 2010 here was the Labour Party's second highest share of the vote in the narrow, traditional grouping of East Anglia (Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex). A recent Ashcroft poll has suggested that it is a winnable seat for Nigel Farage's Party UKIP.
The seat is based around the town of Lowestoft, and includes several smaller market towns and seaside resorts in north-east Suffolk. This corner of Suffolk arguably has stronger connections with Norfolk - Norwich is an easier centre to reach than Ipswich - and there have been unsuccessful proposals to alter the county boundary to reflect this.
Workless claimants who were registered jobseekers were in November 2012 higher than the national average of 3.8%, at 4.9% of the population based on a statistical compilation by The Guardian. This compares more unfavourably to the regional average of 3.2%.