Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Advocates for public deliberation claim that increased citizen involvement in political decision-making can improve democratic governance. Studies have shown that deliberation can be beneficial for participants, but less is known about its impact on the wider public. Looking at the case of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews in Oregon, Katherine R. Knobloch shows that knowing about or using the information provided by deliberative institutions can improve the public’s faith in self-government. 

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

The various Brexit allegiances of Britain’s newspapers are clear. But what do their readers think? Heinz Brandenburg analyses data from the British Election Study Internet Panel to find out how intransigent – or open to compromise – their readers are, and how readerships have shifted since Brexit.

The forward march of party members: has the shift in power to the grassroots gone too far?

The forward march of party members: has the shift in power to the grassroots gone too far?

Patrick Seyd writes that while parliamentarians are in a much better position to decide who should lead the party than party members, in recent years the balance has shifted in favour of the latter. This plebiscitary politics negatively affects both the quality of political leadership and of decision-making.

Book Review | Heroes or Villains? The Blair Government Reconsidered by Jon Davis and John Rentoul

Book Review | Heroes or Villains? The Blair Government Reconsidered by Jon Davis and John Rentoul

In Heroes or Villains? The Blair Government Reconsidered, Jon Davis and John Rentoul seek to counter the negative prevailing view of Tony Blair and the New Labour government, focusing on key areas of criticism. This is a fascinating study packed with first-hand accounts and primary sources, writes Robert Ledger, and is a vital addition to the literature on the Blair government and the wider New Labour project. 

Posted in: Book reviews
Grand corruption and the authoritarian turn

Grand corruption and the authoritarian turn

If incoming governments in liberal democracies wish to use public contracts to benefit those loyal to them, they face institutional constraints. To implement corrupt procurement strategies they would need to sabotage these checks and balances. By comparing procurement data from Hungary and the UK, Liz Dávid-Barrett and Mihály Fazekas can identify the relative effect of such anti-democratic institutional changes, as seen in Hungary, on government patronage.

Evidence from Australia: women are under-represented in senior political appointments, and this affects the representation of women in parliament

Evidence from Australia: women are under-represented in senior political appointments, and this affects the representation of women in parliament

Political advisers can help shape public policy. They are also often the politicians of the future, so it matters who they are. Using a unique data resource from Australia, Marija Taflaga and Matthew Kerby tracked men’s and women’s differing career trajectories in Australian government over time, and found that men were more likely to reach senior levels, and then more likely to enter parliament.

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest  wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the highly centralised, elitist, top-down Westminster model are by no means new. Consecutive Prime Ministers – from Blair to May – vowed to take on vested powers and interests, challenge the status quo, and change the way politics is conducted. Yet, as Patrick Diamond, David Richards, and Alan Wager show, they have all failed to deliver their promises. While another wave of anti-politics is looming, they ask how the established parties will accommodate it.

Book Review | The Populist Radical Left in Europe edited by Giorgios Katsambekis and Alexandros Kioupkiolis

Book Review | The Populist Radical Left in Europe edited by Giorgios Katsambekis and Alexandros Kioupkiolis

In The Populist Radical Left in Europe, editors Giorgios Katsambekis and Alexandros Kioupkiolis bring together contributors to explore populist radical left movements across Europe, discussing examples including Greece’s Syriza, Spain’s Podemos, Slovenia’s Left Party, France’s France Insoumise and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, among others. This is an engaging and engaged work of political science, writes Anton Jäger, that provides a necessary moment of reflection on what left populism means, stands for and aims to achieve. 

Posted in: Book reviews
The US Supreme Court has decided partisan gerrymandering is outside its remit. A democratic restoration now depends on the people alone.

The US Supreme Court has decided partisan gerrymandering is outside its remit. A democratic restoration now depends on the people alone.

The United States Supreme Court has determined that reviewing partisan gerrymandering cases was outside the remit of federal courts. Alex Keena, Michael Latner, Anthony J. McGann and Charles Anthony Smith argue that in failing to recognise the vote dilution caused by the redrawing of a state’s electoral district boundaries to the party in power’s advantage, as well as connecting the majority rule standard to the 14th Amendment, the decision removes Americans’ fundamental right to participate equally in the political process.

The Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and the limitations of transnational populism

The Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and the limitations of transnational populism

Can you create an electorally successful left populist movement beyond the nation state? Benjamin Moffitt, Benjamin De Cleen, Panos Panayotu and Yannis Stavrakakis examine the transnational populist European movement DiEM25, which stood in several countries in the recent European Parliament elections, and considers its prospects in establishing an electorally competitive movement at the transnational level.