Book Review | Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers by David Scott FitzGerald

Book Review | Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers by David Scott FitzGerald

In Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers, David Scott FitzGerald argues that the rich democracies of the Global North have developed ways to evade the spirit of international humanitarian laws when it comes to migration, whilst simultaneously de jure adhering to them. With a rich empirical basis and a clear, accessible style, this compelling and topical book will appeal to a wide range of audiences, writes Denny Pencheva.

Posted in: Book reviews
Why did the Conservatives’ large lead in vote shares produce only an 80-seat majority?

Why did the Conservatives’ large lead in vote shares produce only an 80-seat majority?

Plurality rule voting systems have a well-known tendency to exaggerate the seats of the largest party. A full analysis of the 2019 results remains to be completed, but Tim Smith finds evidence that this time around the Conservatives had a modest 23 seat advantage over Labour in terms of two-party bias. The ‘leader’s bias’ advantage was also much smaller than that which Labour enjoyed in 1997–2005. This may mean that the future boundary reforms to equalise constituency sizes may not be as beneficial as the Conservatives hope.

Voters dislike disproportionality in electoral systems – even when it benefits the party they support

Voters dislike disproportionality in electoral systems – even when it benefits the party they support

Taking advantage of a uniquely designed survey experiment, Carolina Plescia, André Blais and John Högström investigate the effect of proportionality on voter support for voting rules in four countries, namely Austria, the UK, Ireland and Sweden. They find that voters for both small and large parties dislike disproportionality in electoral systems, with little cross-country variation.

Book Review | Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation by Timothy Heppell

Book Review | Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation by Timothy Heppell

In Cameron: The Politics of Modernisation and Manipulation, Timothy Heppell offers a new analysis of David Cameron’s leadership of the Conservative party (2005–16) and of the UK, organised around the key themes of modernisation and manipulation. In his admirably objective study, drawing on compendious reading of relevant sources, Heppell demonstrates that while Cameron’s attempts to ‘de-toxify’ his party are important to his legacy, it is equally profitable to regard him as a manipulator of the broader political landscape, writes Mark Garnett.

A great or Pyrrhic victory? The dangers ahead for Boris Johnson

A great or Pyrrhic victory? The dangers ahead for Boris Johnson

This year Prime Minister Boris Johnson must negotiate the details of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. Although he has the benefit of a sizeable Commons majority, there are potential pitfalls for him, explains Ben Worthy, in the complexity of these negotiations, party management and in Johnson’s own leadership style.

Battle of the mandate: defining the dispute over a new Scottish independence referendum

Battle of the mandate: defining the dispute over a new Scottish independence referendum

The ongoing dispute over whether a new Scottish independence referendum should take place reflects very different interpretations of Scotland’s sovereignty, writes Anthony Salamone. Questions of whether Westminster or Holyrood can determine if a new referendum is held are distinct from the issue of independence itself, and will most likely continue to be contested at least until after the next Scottish parliamentary elections.

Posted in: Scotland
Three ways of theorising ‘capture’: when politics and business join together

Three ways of theorising ‘capture’: when politics and business join together

In the strongest-performing liberal democracies the separation of the political sphere from dominant or directly controlling business influences is protected by a range of ‘blocked exchanges’ (in Michael Walzer’s terms). But in authoritarian regimes, semi-democracies and flawed liberal democracies it is common for business interests to take control of the levers of political power acting alongside top politicians, with a joined-up elite or ‘oligarchy’ thereby ‘capturing’ the state. In different forms, this worldwide phenomenon can be seen from Russia to South Africa and from China to Brazil. Frank Vibert outlines three ways of looking at these situations, and stresses the difficulty of identifying and implementing a cure.

Informational privacy: a precondition for democratic participation?

Informational privacy: a precondition for democratic participation?

To survive, democracies need to protect citizens’ data privacy, even against their inclinations to share information online, writes Wulf Loh.

Dominic Cummings’s thinking on the civil service is a potent challenge to the Whitehall system – and is likely to be opposed

Dominic Cummings’s thinking on the civil service is a potent challenge to the Whitehall system – and is likely to be opposed

Patrick Diamond discusses Dominic Cummings’s stated intent of imposing disruptive reforms on the civil service, and explains why his rhetoric may prove to be particularly counterproductive in a Conservative Government.

How sexuality affects the choices of voters across Europe

How sexuality affects the choices of voters across Europe

Drawing on a new study, Stuart J. Turnbull-Dugarte demonstrates that sexuality has a significant impact on political behaviour across western Europe, with lesbian, gay and bisexual voters far more likely to back parties on the left.

Posted in: political parties