England’s local election’s 2018: what’s at stake in Birmingham?

England’s local election’s 2018: what’s at stake in Birmingham?

On 3 May, there are local council elections across England. All 101 council seats are being contested for Birmingham City Council, making this closely fought race one to watch. Jack Bridgewater previews the city’s elections.

Why mass email campaigns are failing to connect MPs, charities and the people they represent

Why mass email campaigns are failing to connect MPs, charities and the people they represent

Mass email campaigns and online petitions have become a ubiquitous part of modern political campaigning. However, writes Jinan Younis, there is an increasing disconnect between those who organise such campaigns and the people whose lives are affected by the issues they raise. Charities and other campaigning organisations need to rethink how they structure digital campaigns.

Book Review | Europe Reset: New Directions for the EU by Richard Youngs

Book Review | Europe Reset: New Directions for the EU by Richard Youngs

In Europe Reset: New Directions for the EU, Richard Youngs looks at the issue of democracy in Europe, identifying a crisis rooted in alienation from the prevailing model of integration and proposing new initiatives for democratic participation by citizens. While the book largely focuses on democracy on the supra-national level, which may overlook the need for improvement both […]

The development of semi-parliamentarism in Australia

The development of semi-parliamentarism in Australia

Steffen Ganghof has described the Australian system at both national and state levels as ‘semi-parliamentarian’ since governments do not need to maintain the confidence of the upper chambers to survive. Rodney Smith traces how Australia’s upper houses have evolved and established distinct, strengthened mechanisms of executive scrutiny.

Will the ‘youthquake’ shake up the 2018 local elections?

Will the ‘youthquake’ shake up the 2018 local elections?

Youth engagement was heralded by some as a key factor in the 2017 UK general election result but what impact could it have in the 2018 local elections? Erica Belcher argues that this enthusiasm may not necessarily translate to the local level, but it’s more important than ever for young people to engage in local politics.

Is Twitter a populist paradise?

Is Twitter a populist paradise?

A prominent social media presence is typically seen as critical to the success of populist politicians. However, Kristof Jacobs and Niels Spierings find that in the key case of the Netherlands, populist politicians were slower to adopt Twitter and engage with fewer people on it, seemingly preferring instead to stick to their own echo chamber.

Posted in: Populism
On the ballot: how electoral procedures shape the work of Members of the Scottish Parliament

On the ballot: how electoral procedures shape the work of Members of the Scottish Parliament

The electoral system by which members of parliament are elected shapes how legislators perceive their roles. Furthermore, write David C.W. Parker and Caitlyn M. Richter, in the case of the Scottish Parliament, both the electoral system and the change implemented prior to the 2007 election, whereby candidate names were removed from party-list ballots, have an impact on how Members of the Scottish Parliament spend their time and resources.

Long Read Review | The New Poverty by Stephen Armstrong

Long Read Review | The New Poverty by Stephen Armstrong

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Beveridge Report and written in the spirit of George Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, The New Poverty takes a tour of contemporary Britain to show how the implementation of austerity has worked to impoverish millions and leave millions more close to crisis. The combination of reportage and statistics presented by author Stephen Armstrong offers compelling, evocative and dismaying insight into the true, intolerable cost of poverty in the UK today, finds Padraic X. Scanlan.

Posted in: Book reviews
Semi-parliamentary government, in Australia and beyond

Semi-parliamentary government, in Australia and beyond

Australia has developed a unique semi-parliamentary system of government, writes Steffen Ganghof, which assigns different functions to the two equally legitimate but differently constituted houses of parliament. While not an ideal system, it offers an under-appreciated alternative to competing models of presidential and parliamentary democracy.

Hume’s legacy: British-Irish relations need strengthening to face the challenges of Brexit

Hume’s legacy: British-Irish relations need strengthening to face the challenges of Brexit

The formal side of British-Irish relations needs strengthening to face the challenges of Brexit. In this post, in the week the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is marked and ahead of the UK’s impending exit from the EU, Etain Tannam  invokes John Hume’s peacebuilding legacy to better explain the current state of British-Irish relations. She argues that Hume’s concept of the totality of British-Irish relations has taken on new importance and is as significant as it was thirty years ago. 

Posted in: Northern Ireland