What hope is there for societies undergoing democratic downgrades?

What hope is there for societies undergoing democratic downgrades?

Since the 2008 financial crisis, European democracies have lurched decisively in a damaging direction. Democratic citizens have found themselves with less and less of a say in how their societies are being run, all while more and more severe measures have been enacted in their name, writes Benjamin Abrams.

Posted in: Democratic threats
General election 2019: what difference are the Unite to Remain and Brexit Party pacts likely to make?

General election 2019: what difference are the Unite to Remain and Brexit Party pacts likely to make?

The Unite to Remain alliance means the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens are trying to pool their votes to ensure a Remain-backing candidate is elected. But the Brexit Party’s decision to stand down their candidates in Tory-held seats makes this tougher. Heinz Brandenburg concludes that the overall effect of these pacts will be minimal.

Book Review | Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World by Branko Milanovic

Book Review | Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World by Branko Milanovic

If capitalism has triumphed to become the sole socio-economic system globally, what are the prospects for achieving a fairer world? In his new book Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World, Branko Milanovic examines the historical shifts that have led to capitalism’s dominance and looks at the varieties of capitalism at work today to propose choices to ensure that capitalism delivers a more equitable future. Roberto Iacono praises this remarkable book as possibly the author’s most comprehensive opus so far.

Posted in: Book reviews
Citizens with economically left-wing and culturally right-wing views vote less and are less satisfied with politics

Citizens with economically left-wing and culturally right-wing views vote less and are less satisfied with politics

Many citizens hold left-wing positions on economic issues and right-wing positions on cultural issues, but few parties do so. How do these ‘left-authoritarian’ citizens react to the absence of parties that fit their views? Drawing on a new study, Sven Hillen and Nils Steiner report that left-authoritarian citizens are less likely to vote, less satisfied with democracy and have lower levels of trust in political institutions when there is no viable left-authoritarian party.

Be careful what you wish for: Brexit and the call for another referendum

Be careful what you wish for: Brexit and the call for another referendum

Whether or not to hold a referendum on Brexit is a clear dividing line between parties in the upcoming UK general election. However, Philipp Harms and Claudia Landwehr argue that support for such a measure is often largely contingent on expected outcomes, and so can entrench political divides. More deliberative democratic innovations might therefore be better suited to resolving the UK’s political conflicts.

General election 2019: why school buildings need to be used as polling stations

General election 2019: why school buildings need to be used as polling stations

The last time the UK held an election in December was 1923. As preparations are made for a snap election, and despite the logistical problems this might cause, Toby James explains why schools should, as usual, be used at election time, as a government minister and electoral officials clash.

Book Review | The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power

Book Review | The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power

In The Education of an Idealist, Samantha Power offers a political memoir that traces her life story from her beginnings as an Irish immigrant to the US through to her work as a war correspondent in the Balkans and her ascent to the White House, where she served as President Barack Obama’s human rights adviser and became the youngest ever US Ambassador to the United Nations. This gripping, candid and witty book tells the story of Power’s efforts to bring about a different kind of US foreign policy and reveals the tensions that arose between acting on the dictates of governance and responding to human suffering, writes Chris Harmer.

Posted in: Book reviews
General election 2019: unregulated digital political advertisements are damaging our democracy

General election 2019: unregulated digital political advertisements are damaging our democracy

Despite widespread concern about how social media can be exploited by political campaigns, the UK is embarking on a general election campaign without any regulation in place about digital advertisements. Bethany Shiner explains what the problem is, the difficulties with regulation and self-regulation, and how voters should beware of the political messages they see online.

The government’s refusal to release the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian activities against the UK is part of a worrying pattern of obstruction and delay

The government’s refusal to release the Intelligence and Security Committee’s report into Russian activities against the UK is part of a worrying pattern of obstruction and delay

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has produced a report into Russian interference in UK politics, but it cannot be published without government approval. Andrew Defty explains that Number 10’s failure to release the report before Parliament was dissolved is the latest in a series of government actions that have hindered effective parliamentary scrutiny of the intelligence and security services. Reform to ensure the committee has greater independence from executive obstruction should be considered in the next Parliament.

NHS Citizen and what it tells us about designing democratic innovations as deliberative systems

NHS Citizen and what it tells us about designing democratic innovations as deliberative systems

Rikki Dean, John Boswell and Graham Smith analyse an attempt to design a systems-oriented democratic innovation: the NHS Citizen initiative. They write that, while the initiative pioneered some cutting-edge participatory design, it failed to resolve well-known obstacles to institutionalisation. They argue that similar projects must evolve strategies to meet such challenges.