‘Heirs apparent’ in No. 10 and beyond – why career ascendancy patterns matter, and how

‘Heirs apparent’ in No. 10 and beyond – why career ascendancy patterns matter, and how

In Westminster-style democracies, it is not uncommon for prime ministers to assume office by inheriting the post outside of a general election. Ludger Helms assesses the performance of prime ministers who were previously ‘heirs apparent’ and finds that their prior experience does not tend to lead to success.

Posted in: Prime Ministers
The Great Brexit Crisis: we are in for an unprecedented shake up of the UK constitution, laws, conventions and politics

The Great Brexit Crisis: we are in for an unprecedented shake up of the UK constitution, laws, conventions and politics

The UK seems to be rapidly heading for one of the most tangled and tumultuous political periods in modern history as Brexit nears its apogee, writes Colin Talbot. Whether you think we’re headed to Valhalla or Ragnarok, the constitution, law, conventions and politics are all set to be tested in ways rarely seen. In this blog, he presents a quick guide to some of the institutions that will be severely tested over the next days and weeks.

Posted in: EU referendum
How and when constitutional conventions change in Westminster democracies

How and when constitutional conventions change in Westminster democracies

Westminster democracies incorporate numerous constitutional conventions – the uncodified, informal rules and practices by which political institutions operate. Nicholas Barry, Narelle Miragliotta and Zim Nwokora identify some key patterns for when and how different types of conventions are modified, and suggest further research is needed to develop a fuller understanding of the dynamics of change for political conventions. 

Why neoliberal approaches to policy are detrimental to democratic participation

Why neoliberal approaches to policy are detrimental to democratic participation

The neoliberal introduction of market principles to the governance of public institutions has eroded faith in more democratic forms of deliberation and decision-making, argues Bradley Allsop. Our response should be to encourage greater workplace democracy and more collective, cooperative forms of local participation.

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

Even though it looks increasingly likely the Brexit deal will not survive its first hurdle in parliament, there is yet more evidence in its pages that Brexit has saved the Human Rights Act and secured Britain’s long term future as party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), writes Frederick Cowell. In the Political Declaration on the Framework of Future relations with the EU, the document accompanying the withdrawal agreement, under the heading ‘core values and rights there is a commitment to ‘respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights’. In the text of the withdrawal agreement itself – which would be a legally binding on the government – there are provisions in the Protocols on Northern Ireland, which seem to assume the UK remains a party to the ECHR.

Local policy responses to anti-Islamic protest in the UK need to consider both exclusionary and inclusionary approaches

Local policy responses to anti-Islamic protest in the UK need to consider both exclusionary and inclusionary approaches

Disruptive and antagonistic anti-Islamic protests in some towns and cities in the UK have posed a challenge to local authorities in how to respond to them. William Allchorn examines the variety of policy responses that have been attempted and suggests that inclusionary tactics that address narratives of polarisation need to be part of the democratic response.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Book Review | The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems edited by Erik S Herron, Robert J Pekkanen and Matthew S Shugart

Book Review | The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems edited by Erik S Herron, Robert J Pekkanen and Matthew S Shugart

Electoral systems are key components in the operation of representative democracies that vary considerably in their construction, with important consequences for how democracy is implemented. Ron Johnston reviews The Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems which provides valuable overviews of many of the important topics studied by electoral system scholars, though he wonders about the relative value of such large and expensive volumes aimed at providing ‘state-of-the-art’ surveys and ‘compelling new perspectives’.

Posted in: Book reviews
When are Green parties successful?

When are Green parties successful?

In 2018 Green parties are experiencing unprecedented levels of success in several advanced democracies; however, in a great many others they remain only minor footnotes to national electoral contests. Zack P. Grant argues that variation in Green party support is largely a function of good economic times, the presence of tangible environmental disputes, and mainstream parties actively attempting to emulate the positions of the Greens on their core issues (though the latter is dependent upon the age of Green parties themselves).

Posted in: political parties
Many interest groups are more in line with public preferences than commonly thought

Many interest groups are more in line with public preferences than commonly thought

While some see lobbying as a threat to democracy, others portray interest groups as an important link between the public and the political system. But to what extent do interest groups actually support what the public wants? Linda Flöthe and Anne Rasmussen present a detailed cross-national comparison of congruence between interest groups and the public. They illustrate that despite the negative image of interest groups in politics, their positions are in line with public opinion more than half the time. Moreover, while business interests are often feared the most, a sizable share of them hold preferences in line with a majority of the public.

How well does the UK’s democracy protect human rights and civil liberties?

How well does the UK’s democracy protect human rights and civil liberties?

A foundational principle of liberal democracy is that all citizens are equal, and so the protection of fundamental human rights is of critical importance for democratic effectiveness. In many countries a statement of citizens’ rights forms part of the constitution, and is especially enshrined in law and enforced by the courts. This has not happened in the UK, which has no codified constitution. Instead, in an article from The UK’s Changing Democracy: the 2018 Democratic Audit, Colm O’Cinneide evaluates the more diffuse and eclectic ways in which the UK’s political system protects fundamental human rights through the Human Rights Act and other legislation, and the courts and Parliament.