100 things we learned about democracy in 2013

To mark the end of 2013, Democratic Audit has collected 100 of the most important, surprising and downright disturbing things we have learned about democracy this year. Here is part four of our list, covering everything from Parliamentary select committees to Cornish national identity. 

Read the original post for numbers;    1-25,    26-50,    51-75,    and 76-100

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Credit: origadimon, CC by 2.0

1. Europe-wide voter turnout at the 2014 European elections is likely to be the lowest ever. Find out more here.

2. MPs with slim parliamentary majorities are more likely to be on Twitter than those in safe seats. Find out more here.

3. Internal party cultures are more important than electoral systems in determining how many women are elected to legislatures. Find out more here.

4. There are no books designed to educate toddlers about democracy… but there will be one published soon. Find out more here.

5. Despite being praised as a model of workplace democracy, managers of the John Lewis Partnership have recently tried to reduce the voting rights of company employees. Find out more here.

6. UKIP representatives have appeared on the BBC’s Question Time 21 times since 2009 – more frequently than any other minor party – although the British National Party is still discussed much more in academic literature.Find out more here and here.

7. Although defeats in parliamentary votes are rare, UK governments are regularly forced to bow to the will of MPs and peers. Find out more here.

8. Whitehall’s prevailing model of ministerial accountability, based on the Haldane principle, is increasingly close to breaking point. Find out more here.

9. In Welsh local government, only 23% of council chief executives and 5% of council leaders are women.Find out more here.

10. 61% of European Union member states allow expatriate citizens to vote in national elections using overseas embassies. The UK is not one of them. Find out more here.

11. Since 2010 the opportunities for corruption in local government have increased. Find out more here.

12. The British political system is characterised by ‘vanity, duplicity, greed, hypocrisy and cruelty’, according to Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor (who should know). Find out more here.

13. If a proportional representation voting system were introduced for local elections, the number of Conservative councillors in Wigan would increase by 1000%. Find out more here.

14. Cultural reasons, not technological flaws, are the main reason we have not adopted electronic voting systems in UK elections. Find out more here.

15.  Increased polarization in politics significantly reduces voter turnout. Find out more here.

16. MPs who worked in politics before being elected to parliament are more likely to have jobs on their party’s frontbench. Find out more here.

17. The BBC is politically biased… to the right. Find out more here.

18. It is possible to crowdsource a constitution, even if Icelandic politicians don’t agree. Find out more here and here.

19. Voters punish politicians for misinformation that portrays themselves in a favourable light, but not for inaccurate information that attacks their opponents. Find out more here.

20. The questioning style of parliamentary select committees is becoming increasingly aggressive. Find out more here.

21. The former Cabinet Secretary thinks pre-qualification criteria for parliamentary candidates might be a good idea.  Find out more here.

22. The UK provides more than £100 million per year to political parties, including benefits in kind. Find out more here.

23. 66% of English people want to change the constitutional status of England, but only 18% support an English Parliament.Find out more here.

24. Taking into account pre-parliamentary activity, the leaders of the three main parties today are the most politically experienced since 1945. Find out more here.

25. Politicians can save lives. Find out more here.

26. At least one Police and Crime Commissioner wants to abolish his own job, although most others disagree. Find out more here.

27. If Britain doesn’t give voting rights to prisoners, we may be forced to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, according to the Attorney General. Find out more here.

28. Elections are a decision-making domain in which adolescents’ cognitive-processing abilities would almost certainly remain uncompromised.Find out more here.

29. Ruling regimes in the Gulf use investments in English football to improve their public image.Find out more here.

30. Only a small minority of constituency level campaigns at the 2010 general elections used Twitter and Facebook to interact with voters.Find out more here.

31. Party conferences have very little influence on party policy, but they are good for democracy nonetheless. Find out more here.

32. The public can now, finally, watch recordings of Tower Hamlets council meetings online. But they still can’t record meetings themselves. Find out more here and here.

33. In elections, incumbent candidates spend less time talking about the issues than challengers do. Find out more here.

34. 45% of all MPs worked in London immediately prior to being elected to Parliament.Find out more here.

35. 63% of the UK public believes politicians can make a difference to major social and economic issues facing the country. Find out more here.

36. Female councillors are less likely to stand for Parliament than their male colleagues. Find out more here.

37. The convention that opposition parties do not oppose the Speaker of the House of Commons in a general election is a relatively recent phenomenon. Find out more here.

38. The demise of the Free Democrats in Germany does not necessarily foreshadow a similar fate for the Liberal Democrats. Find out more here.

39. The House of Lords is the largest parliamentary chamber of any democracy, and is likely to grow to over 1,000 peers after the next election. Find out more here and here.

40. Governing parties of the centre left were more likely to lose support during the recent economic crisis than those of the centre right. Find out more here.

41. Kevin Rudd’s replacement of Julia Gillard might be the last coup in the Australian Labor Party, following party reforms that make it much harder to overthrow a leader. Find out more here.

42. According to a former Downing Street adviser, there is a complete lack of correlation between ministerial competence and media perceptions of their performance. Find out more here.

43. The NHS is exploring new ways to encourage patient and public involvement in decision-making, including the establishment of a Citizens Assembly.Find out more here.

44. Gordon Brown’s Cabinet appointments were the youngest and least experienced of any post-war Prime Minister. Find out more here.

45. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman handled 27,000 enquiries from the public last year, an increase of 13%. Find out more here.

46. Voters are more likely to support parliamentary candidates that live closer to their constituency. Find out more here.

47. Ethnic minority MPs are no more likely to table Early Day Motions on issues relating to ethnic minorities in Parliament, but they are more likely to ask questions on these issues. Find out more here and here.

48. Turnout in the newly-introduced neighbourhood planning referendums has been as high as 50%. Find out more here.

49. According to the Association of Professional Political Consultants, 99% of lobbyists that regularly meet government ministers would not be required to register under the proposed Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill.Find out more here.

50. Habitually wearing red trousers does not prevent a politician having a significant impact on the governance of his city. Find out more here.

51. Despite claims to the contrary, democracy is not overrated at all. Find out morehere.

52. Russell Brand has led a varied and exciting life, but his escapades have never taken him to the inside of a polling station. Find out more here.

53. The Conservatives in Government row with one another almost as much as they do with the Liberal Democrats inside the Government. Find out morehere.

54. The implementation of Individual Voter Registration could see thousands of people – disproportionately from lower income and BAME backgrounds – thrown off the electoral register.Find out more here.

55. Police and Crime Commissioners have the power to sack their Chief Constables. Find out morehere.

56. The UK has the lowest youth participation rate of the EU-15 countries. Find out more here.

57. The best way to get people involved in elections is through talking to them face-to-face. Find out more here.

58. The wording of the Conservative Party’s proposed EU referendum could hardly be more flawed. Find out more here.

59. It is almost impossible to predict elections using social media, but the data can be of some use. Find out more here.

60. People are more likely to distrust politicians because they can’t answer a straight question with a straight answer than anything else. Find out more here.

61. Brazil, Austria, Nicaragua, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man, and parts of Norway all have votes at 16. Find out more here.

62. 90% of the UK public believe the country is run by a few big entities, solely concerned with looking out for themselves. Find out more here.

63. More than half of the MPs elected at the 2010 General Election took a pay cut. Find out morehere.

64. Despite taking a pop at Russell Brand for not participating in elections, Jeremy Paxman also sometimes opts not to exercise the right to vote. Find out more here.

65. People who have served on juries are more likely to vote. Find out more here.

66. In Britain’s first past the post electoral system, some votes are worth 22 times more than others. Find out more here.

67. People are more likely to vote if they think their neighbours do, too. Find out morehere.

68. Durham has the worst ‘proportionality’ of any constituency in the country. Find out more here.

69. Electorally vulnerable MPs are less likely to hold a directorship than other MPs in an election year. Find out more here.

70. 37% of the population support job sharing for MPs, while 38% oppose it. Find out more here.

71. The UK has 21 non-Ministerial departments, without clear lines of accountability to Parliament and within Government. Find out more here.

72. The UK citizenship test presents a male-dominated view of history. Find out more here.

73. Internal party dissent is less likely in countries with majoritarian voting systems like the UK. Find out more here.

74. Voters in Britain care just as much about the source of outside income that MPs receive as the amount. Find out more here.

75. Economic investment declines in certain sectors declines in the run-up to an election, due to uncertainty. Find out more here.

76. Dog ownership does influence people in deciding how to vote, at least in the US.Find out more here.

77. The political party name ‘National Liberal’ – or at least something so close as to be near indistinguishable – is already registered with the Electoral Commission. Find out more here.

78. Labour’s former Campaigns Chief thinks that MPs ought to spend more time in muddy fields listening to bands. Find out more here.

79. Only around half of MPs were born within the region they represent in Parliament. Find out more here.

80. Parliamentary Select Committees are paid a great deal more attention in the media than they used to be. Find out more here.

81. The House of Lords is more diverse than the Commons in its party membership and more representative of the public’s political preferences.Find out more here.

82. The Government payroll vote is huge, at its very limits, and bad for democracy. Find out more here.

83. Online misogyny prevents women from participating fully in democracy. Find out more here.

84. There have been more Government “Tsars” appointed by this Government than any previously.Find out more here.

85. Online voting is faster and cheaper – but it doesn’t increase turnout. Find out more here.

86. If people start voting young, they tend to stay in the habit. Find out more here.

87. Online political discussions are more civil when they take place on Facebook. Find out more here.

88. In England, only 23% of council Chief Executives are women, and 12% of Council Leaders. Find out more here.

89. Just 41% of the public now say that in the event of an immediate general election they would be certain to vote. Find out more here.

90. Female politicians receive less attention in the press now than they did 20 years ago. Find out more here.

91. 350 Parliamentary constituencies have never elected a female MP. Find out more here.

92. Despite the (heeded) vote in Parliament against military involvement in Syria, the UK Parliament still has relatively weak war powers. Find out morehere.

93. Something called the ‘Osmotherly Rules’ is a barrier to better Select Committee scrutiny of Government. Find out more here.

94. Rain doesn’t effective voter turnout… in Sweden, at least. Find out more here.

95. The proportion of people who self-identify as Cornish doubled in the decade after 2001. Find out more here.

96. Membership of the Green Party increased by a greater amount than that of UKIP between 2008 and 2012. Find out more here.

97. Prince Charles has had 35 private, unminuted meetings with Ministers since 2010.Find out more here.

98. The A List helped increase the number of female Conservative MPs, but had little effect on race and class composition of the Conservative parliamentary party. Find out more here.

99. British political fiction depicts our elected representatives as both powerless and self-interested. Find out more here.

100. 46 per cent of the top 50 publicly traded firms have a British MP as a director or shareholder. Find out more here.

Note: This post represents the views of the authors and does not give the position of Democratic Audit or the LSE. Please read our comments policy before commenting. Shortlink for this post: buff.ly/19gZfIK

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