Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

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The modern monarchy and prorogation: clearer rules are required

The modern monarchy and prorogation: clearer rules are required

The question of the legality of Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament reaches the Supreme Court this week. In this context, Craig Prescott argues that, if politicians can’t exercise restraint, then clearer rules for when one parliamentary session ends and a new one begins are needed to avoid the politicisation of the modern monarchy.

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

In considering whether the recent decision to prorogue Parliament was legal, the English and Scottish courts came to different conclusions because they considered different questions, explains Pippa Catterall, not because Scottish and English public legal approaches differ. She discusses the points of constitutional law that are at stake as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the case.

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Matt Hall and David Marsh discuss what recent developments in British politics, especially since the election of Boris Johnson, tell us about the British Political Tradition – a view of democracy that emphasises a limited liberal conception of representation, which focuses on the importance of free and fair elections, and a conservative conception of responsibility based on the idea that the ‘executive knows best’.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

During UK–EU Brexit negotiations, Theresa May pursued a determined path of concealment and non-disclosure. Envisaged as a way to protect herself against political opposition, enhancing her bargaining power vis-à-vis the EU and deliver policy promises, the strategy failed and contributed to the end of her premiership. Ben Worthy and Marlen Heide detail how her case illustrates the powers of increasing transparency expectations and the risks of concealment over longer times or around contentious issues. It provides a useful lesson for her successor.

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

Cutting the size of a parliament: we should consider process and resources not just numbers

When political leaders say we should cut the number of politicians, what are their motives? Alex Marland found that the rationale is largely symbolic, rather than grounded in any considered approach to legislature size, and used as a populist framing for more general cost-cutting. A more coherent approach should include attention to the process of cutting, and to overall resources for backbench politicians.

Book Review | Rethinking US Election Law: Unskewing the System by Steven Mulroy

Book Review | Rethinking US Election Law: Unskewing the System by Steven Mulroy

In Rethinking US Election Law: Unskewing the System, Steven Mulroy offers comprehensive considerations of arguments in favour of and against proposed reforms of US election law. This is an excellent and engaging read that exposes the structural flaws in the US government system and provides tangible, achievable proposals to address them, writes Erica Frazier. Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash Similar PostsAcademics […]

Why do ‘niche parties’ perform so well in European and subnational elections?

Why do ‘niche parties’ perform so well in European and subnational elections?

Single-issue parties, such as the Brexit Party and Greens, tend to do better in local and European elections across Europe. Emmy Lindstam examines why, and finds that voters are willing to vote switch on an issue they think is overlooked by their preferred party, particularly if they think the stakes are low for that election.

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

How do you ensure that political campaigns don’t rely on lies and misinformation? James Organ proposes changing election campaign law to prohibit knowingly false political statements by campaigners, and suggests that involving voters, via a citizens’ assembly, could be one way to ensure the quality of political information improves in any referendum.

After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution?

After the prorogation coup, what’s left of the British constitution?

The contemptuous ease with which the Johnson-Cummings regime has attempted to cripple parliamentary consideration of alternatives to a no-deal Brexit by proroguing parliament raises serious issues about the remaining value of the UK’s ‘unfixed constitution’. This controversy comes after a prolonged period in which the executive under Theresa May used every micro-institutional weapon to blackmail MPs into accepting its deal. Patrick Dunleavy argues that the UK has slipped into having a failed constitution, where core democratic institutions are contaminated by rigged micro-institutions. The control of power has become dominated by a bunch of executive tricks, and an uncodified ‘constitution’ no longer provides any predictable or worthwhile constraints on government action. Yet it may be only a small step from creating a failed constitution to becoming some version of a failed state.

Leader evaluations and electoral participation: the personalisation of voter turnout?

Leader evaluations and electoral participation: the personalisation of voter turnout?

We know that voters identify less with political parties than they used to, and that politics has become more personalised. What effect has this had on turnout? Frederico Ferreira da Silva, Diego Garzia and Andrea de Angelis test the effect of voters’ identification with political leaders on turnout in 13 West European countries and find that the personal identification with a leader increases turnout, and that this pattern has increased over time and also depends on voters’ patterns of media consumption.