Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

rss feed YouTube

Author's Website →

How to change the government without causing a general election

How to change the government without causing a general election

David Howarth explains how the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 has altered the options for no confidence motions in Parliament, and how an opposition party might form a government without there being a general election.

Book Review | Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case by Mary C. Murphy

Book Review | Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case by Mary C. Murphy

In Europe and Northern Ireland’s Future: Negotiating Brexit’s Unique Case, Mary C. Murphy offers a multi-layered account of the consequences of the Brexit referendum vote for Northern Irish politics and the relationship with the European Union. The book’s analysis shows great sensitivity, intellectual rigour and acute understanding, writes Matthew G O’Neill.

The Brexit vote and Trump’s election were decided democratically. So why don’t they feel that way?

The Brexit vote and Trump’s election were decided democratically. So why don’t they feel that way?

The Brexit referendum and Trump’s election were each decided by a free and fair vote, yet large proportions of UK and US citizens have trouble accepting them as truly  ‘democratic’. A working democracy requires more than free elections; it requires additional institutions, such as well-functioning political public sphere and a responsive political party system, to channel citizens’ voices into productive public debate and foster a sense of ‘collective democratic will’, writes Brian Milstein. If these institutions are in a state of decay, democratic politics can start to appear unfocused and erratic – we can even find ourselves subject to decisions that were ‘formally’ democratic, yet somehow don’t ‘feel’ democratic, he argues.

Does changing electoral rules affect legislators’ productivity?

Does changing electoral rules affect legislators’ productivity?

There have been numerous reforms to the electoral rules and candidate selection processes for the Israel parliament (Knesset) in recent years, making it an interesting case study for testing the hypothesis that such changes affect legislators’ productivity. Using a model that acknowledges there are many facets to legislators’ roles Osnat Akirav demonstrates that legislators’ productivity is affected changes to these rules – but that this does not in turn make it more likely that they will be re-elected.

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

Devolution encompasses a range of quite different solutions in three countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), plus markedly smaller delegations of powers to London and some English cities and regions. There remain important issues around the stability and effectiveness of these arrangements, which were designed to meet specific demands for national or regional control and to bring government closer to citizens. In an article from our book, The UK’s Changing Democracy, Diana Stirbu and Patrick Dunleavy explore how far relations between Westminster and the key devolved institutions have been handled democratically and effectively.

Full of sound and fury: Is Westminster’s e-petitioning system good for democracy?

Full of sound and fury: Is Westminster’s e-petitioning system good for democracy?

Online petitions to Parliament have become a ubiquitous part of political campaigning. However, writes Carys Girvin, as the UK system is currently designed, without mechanisms for real public deliberation, they can be crude tools that fail to enhance participatory forms of democratic decision-making. Examples from Germany and Finland suggest possible improvements.

Book Review | The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

Book Review | The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany by Cynthia Miller-Idriss

In The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialisation and Far Right Youth Culture, Cynthia Miller-Idriss explores how far-right ideology has infiltrated contemporary mainstream German culture through commercial products that are coded with extremist messages. Using a digital archive containing thousands of historical and contemporary images as well as data from interviews with young people, Miller-Idriss reminds us that while the commercialisation of the far right is not a new phenomenon, it is gaining currency. Katherine Williams recommends this book to readers interested in sociology, history and far-right extremism in its many guises.

The UK’s democracy is in danger of backsliding – but current policy proposals are not the right fix

The UK’s democracy is in danger of backsliding – but current policy proposals are not the right fix

Jessica Garland from the Electoral Reform Society responds to our recent publication, The UK’s Changing Democracy, and highlights crucial areas for immediate reform, particularly in the areas of political finance and online advertising.

Schrodinger’s devolution and the potential for ongoing political instability after Brexit

Schrodinger’s devolution and the potential for ongoing political instability after Brexit

Territorial governance in the UK has taken the form of ‘Schrodinger’s devolution’, where the devolved nations both have and have not experienced fundamental constitutional change. But Brexit highlights the need for exact decisions where ambiguity has so far existed, explain Mark Sandford and Cathy Gormley-Heenan.

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Why do we care what our politicians get paid?

Since payments for MPs were introduced in the early in the 20th century, the rhetoric used to justify them has changed markedly. Initially, writes Nicholas Dickinson, any remuneration was almost always construed in terms of broadening democratic representation. Related to a landmark 1971 report, however, MPs increasingly began to be depicted as political professionals. This change in framing allowed salaries to increase, but at the cost of lasting public ambivalence.