Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

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A tale of two referendums, but similar Remainers: 1975 and 2016

A tale of two referendums, but similar Remainers: 1975 and 2016

The British public has voted on membership of the EU on two occasions. In 1975, based on a turnout of 64 per cent, two-thirds voted to stay in the EEC, cementing Britain’s place for the next four decades. In 2016, on a turnout of 72 per cent, 52 per cent of the public voted to […]

Embattled political elites embrace democratic reform to save themselves

Embattled political elites embrace democratic reform to save themselves

When they fear they are losing people’s trust, Western European governments start to bring in democratic reforms. The same thing happens when governments change frequently. Camille Bedock (Université libre de Bruxelles) looks at the recent upheavals in France and Italy – which contrast with Denmark, where people are generally happy with political institutions – and […]

Book review | Democracy Protests: Origins, Features and Significance, by Dawn Brancati

Book review | Democracy Protests: Origins, Features and Significance, by Dawn Brancati

In Democracy Protests: Origins, Features and Significance, Dawn Brancati examines the conditions under which citizen discontent with governments transforms into democracy protests, placing particular emphasis upon the role played by economic crises. Drawing upon an original dataset based on 180 states between 1989 and 2011, this is a significant contribution to better understanding the factors and dynamics behind […]

New parties, new movements: but how much say do party members get?

New parties, new movements: but how much say do party members get?

The Political Party Database Project has analysed the workings of 122 political parties in 19 parliamentary democracies. Remarkably, the vast majority share a common model of subscriber democracy: members join at a local level and enjoy a certain amount of say in the party’s direction. But in recent years a wave of new political movements, […]

Audit 2017: How effective is the Westminster Parliament in scrutinising central government policy-making?

Audit 2017: How effective is the Westminster Parliament in scrutinising central government policy-making?

The House of Commons is one of the oldest and foremost legislatures in the world – yet in the past it was also a byword amongst political scientists for weak legislative control of government. Recently some revisionist authors have painted a more active picture of MPs’ influence. As part of our 2017 Audit of UK […]

Called up for parliamentary service: why we should replace the Lords with a House of Citizens

Called up for parliamentary service: why we should replace the Lords with a House of Citizens

The Lords is an affront to democracy and Parliament as a whole is regarded as untrustworthy. Matthew Beswick says the second chamber should be replaced by a 160-strong citizens’ assembly, whose members would be chosen to serve a two-year term by sortition – just as juries are picked now. Similar PostsGender equality in Parliament: how […]

Smile or smirk? Why non-verbal behaviour matters in parliamentary select committees

Smile or smirk? Why non-verbal behaviour matters in parliamentary select committees

When witnesses appear before select committees, Hansard records their words – but not their expressions. Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey (LSE) analysed nonverbal behaviour in 12 economic policy committee hearings, including some in which George Osborne gave evidence. In some of the hearings with Osborne, he appears to be smirking; in others, his smiles appear genuine. She argues that […]

Book review | Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation, by Gianpaolo Baiocchi & Ernesto Ganuza

Book review | Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation, by Gianpaolo Baiocchi & Ernesto Ganuza

In Popular Democracy: The Paradox of Participation, Gianpaolo Baiocchi and Ernesto Ganuza examine contemporary forms of participatory governance by tracing the origins and development of participatory budgeting (PB) from its roots in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to its adoption in two cases, Cordoba, Spain and Chicago, USA. While acknowledging that PB has been seen as being too easily co-opted by neoliberalism, the […]

The six faces of parliamentary power

The six faces of parliamentary power

The Westminster parliament is famous throughout the world, but often presented as relatively non-influential when it comes to making the law. Meg Russell and Daniel Gover‘s new book Legislation at Westminster is the most detailed study of the British legislative process for over 40 years, and challenges these assumptions. The authors summarise their findings on […]

Audit 2017: How democratic are the institutions of devolved government in Northern Ireland?

Audit 2017: How democratic are the institutions of devolved government in Northern Ireland?

Devolved government in Northern Ireland centres around unique institutions, a power-sharing Executive with ministers chosen on a proportional basis, answering to an Assembly elected using PR. It was designed to overcome the intercommunal strife that has characterised Northern Ireland public life: the challenges it has faced have been particularly acute, and its record has, inevitably, […]

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