Can voters influence social policy?

Can voters influence social policy?

One of the fundamental promises of electoral democracy is that voters influence governments’ policies. However, whether voters actually have such an influence remains an open question, with recent public debate and academic research often answering ‘no’. In a large-scale study of citizens’ preferences, Marc Hooghe, Ruth Dassonneville and Jennifer Oser investigate the extent to which there is a relationship between the political position of citizens and social policy in a broad range of countries over time. They find that, while there is no direct correlation between citizens’ preferences and their country’s social policy, high electoral turnout and the composition of the governing cabinet do have an effect.

Book Review | How to Save a Constitutional Democracy by Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq

Book Review | How to Save a Constitutional Democracy by Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq

In How to Save a Constitutional Democracy, Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq focus on the structural forces that can break democratic societies and the role the constitutional system plays in democratic failure as well as its prevention. The book’s clear and engaging approach makes it a valuable contribution to scholarship on democracy and authoritarianism, recommends Lorenzo Canepari.

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A tale of two failures: poor choices and bad judgements on the road to Brexit

A tale of two failures: poor choices and bad judgements on the road to Brexit

How did we get where we are on Brexit? Many major political events are shaped by institutions and long-term social changes, but the political choices of leaders matter too. Ben Worthy assesses how the short-term decisions of David Cameron and Theresa May have led to this avoidable Brexit mess.

Political knowledge and populist attitudes influence voter preferences for government formation

Political knowledge and populist attitudes influence voter preferences for government formation

Government formation in multiparty systems requires election losers to concede victory to the winners and, more often than not, winners to compromise to form a coalition government. Why will some voters concede victory to the winning party but others won’t? And what influences their openness to other parties during coalition talks? Looking at evidence from Austria, a multiparty system at the heart of Europe, Carolina Plescia and Jakob-Moritz Eberl find that, even after controlling for party preferences and ideology, political knowledge and populist attitudes are essential in explaining voters’ willingness or unwillingness to accept these fundamental prerequisites of coalition bargaining and political compromise.

The US Congress understands the importance of Special Forces oversight, why doesn’t the UK Parliament?

The US Congress understands the importance of Special Forces oversight, why doesn’t the UK Parliament?

The US Congress has recently ordered a review of the country’s special operations forces – something that the UK Parliament is unable to do. As special forces are increasingly used in actions overseas, and face growing questions about accountability and resources, Liam Walpole argues it is time for the UK government to abandon its outdated attitude and allow for the democratic oversight of special forces in Parliament.

Book Review | The Politics of the Anthropocene by John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

Book Review | The Politics of the Anthropocene by John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

In The Politics of the Anthropocene, John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering consider politics and governance for the time of the Anthropocene, exploring how it forces us to think anew about ideas of nature, justice, sustainability and democracy. The book not only attunes us to the depth of the challenges ahead, but also provides openings through which our politics can evolve with the dynamism and uncertainties of the Anthropocene era, writes Raj Kaithwar.

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Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

The debate on Brexit has spurred discussion about how the UK’s exit from the EU could affect the devolved nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). But, writes Arianna Giovannini, the impact on England is also important to address, as the lack of a coherent devolution policy means that Brexit could have profound institutional, economic and political effects on the largest nation of the UK.

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

There is an ongoing debate in the UK over whether holding another referendum on EU membership would be democratic or not. Drawing on a new study, Sveinung Arnesen explains that while in general most citizens believe governments should follow the results of referendums on EU membership, this depends heavily upon the level of turnout, the size of the majority, and the outcome of the specific referendum in question.

What explains mainstream party decline across Europe?

What explains mainstream party decline across Europe?

In new research on party systems in 16 European countries, Jae-Jae Spoon and Heike Klüver demonstrate that, as mainstream parties have converged towards the political centre, voters are switching support to more extreme parties on the right and left. This has significant implications for how mainstream parties can distinguish themselves while still attracting voters, and for government formation in increasingly fragmented systems. 

Book Review | Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

Book Review | Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

In Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger offers an appraisal of news media today, drawing on his experience at the helm of the British newspaper that broke notable news stories relating to phone hacking, Wikileaks and the National Security Agency (NSA) revelations. While the book could include more self-reflection when it comes to Rusbridger’s business decisions as editor, this is a vital read for anyone interested in the viability of our media in the digital era, recommends Peter Carrol.

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