Book review: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries: Vol 5 – ‘thrilling, insightful’

Book review: Alastair Campbell’s Diaries: Vol 5 – ‘thrilling, insightful’

In the fifth volume of his published diaries, Outside, Inside, 2003-2005, Alastair Campbell steps down as Tony Blair’s Director of Communications in 2003 but is drawn back into politics amid the continued chaos of the Iraq war, the breakdown of the Blair-Brown relationship and the impending election campaign. With the pace of a thriller, this book offers fascinating […]

The secret of better government? Citizens who complain

The secret of better government? Citizens who complain

Citizens are becoming more sceptical and critical of their governments. Chris Welzel and Russell Dalton examine whether this phenomenon is good or bad for democratic stability by looking at the relationship between assertive and allegiant citizen norms and effective governance. They challenge the Burkean view that good government requires an obedient citizenry to function properly. Assertive citizens […]

Breaking with the past: how voting reform could reinvigorate Australian politics

Breaking with the past: how voting reform could reinvigorate Australian politics

Spoiled ballot papers and the lowest turnout since voting became compulsory in 1925: young Australians are increasingly disillusioned with traditional politics, and with the two main parties in particular. Adele Lausberg says it is time to overhaul the way the House of Representatives is elected to give smaller parties more of a voice. Both the House […]

Votes at 16: do mock elections make a difference to adults’ attitudes?

Votes at 16: do mock elections make a difference to adults’ attitudes?

Mock elections help 16- and 17-year-olds understand how elections work. But do they make adults more likely to back lowering the voting age to 16? Erik Gahner Larsen, Klaus Levinsen and Ulrik Kjær looked at the 2009 local elections in Denmark, when a number of municipalities held mock elections alongside the real ones. They found that they […]

The costs of being honest: what Serpico can teach us about reducing corruption

The costs of being honest: what Serpico can teach us about reducing corruption

Although bureaucratic corruption plagues many countries, researchers struggle to recommend ways to deter it. Aksel Sundström argues that the effect of violent intimidation by people trying to bribe enforcement officers has been largely overlooked. He suggests that protection schemes for officials may have the potential to reduce the costs of honest behaviour. Similar PostsIn places […]

Referendums, informed voting and the trouble with a ‘truth commission’

Referendums, informed voting and the trouble with a ‘truth commission’

Following the EU referendum, there have been demands for a ‘truth commission’ to be set up to oversee future referendum campaigns. Paul Kildea argues that there are significant practical difficulties to the establishment of such a body. These include the possibility of a ‘chilling effect’ on speech, the fact that the accuracy of many controversial […]

Book review | Locating Localism: Statecraft, Citizenship and Democracy, by Jane Wills

Book review | Locating Localism: Statecraft, Citizenship and Democracy, by Jane Wills

In Locating Localism: Statecraft, Citizenship and Democracy, Jane Wills explores the development of localism in the UK and the structures that both encourage and impede the transfer of decision-making to the neighbourhood level. While the book occasionally lacks engagement with the precise relationship between devolution and localism and the political struggles occurring within communities, Richard […]

How No Child Left Behind encourages better-off parents to flee poorly-performing schools

How No Child Left Behind encourages better-off parents to flee poorly-performing schools

For a democracy to function properly, its citizens need to be informed. In order to encourage this and make providers more accountable, the US has implemented performance accountability measures for public and private goods and services. In new research, John B. Holbein examines the effects of the No Child Left Behind policy, which gives citizens information […]

The quality of mercy: how religion and ethno-nationalism influence attitudes towards amnesty in Northern Ireland

The quality of mercy: how religion and ethno-nationalism influence attitudes towards amnesty in Northern Ireland

The Good Friday Agreement gave political resonance to concepts like amnesty, forgiveness and mercy – all of them familiar from the lexicon of religion. John D Brewer and Bernadette C Hayes found that religious and ethno-national identity in Northern Ireland both influence public attitudes towards amnesty. In particular, belief in the Bible as the literal word of […]

A century ago, Warren Harding prefigured Trump’s brand of strongman nationalism

A century ago, Warren Harding prefigured Trump’s brand of strongman nationalism

Donald Trump will not be the first US president to espouse a closed-borders, ‘America First’ nationalism. Luke Cooper traces the roots of Trump’s protectionism back to century-old arguments made by Warren Harding, the 29th President. Similar PostsWe need to talk about our democracy‘If something isn’t done we’ve hit democracy’s high water mark. That’s billions of […]

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