Referendums can be more effective if voters can choose from several options

Referendums can be more effective if voters can choose from several options

As the UK prepares for a second general election since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Charlotte C.L. Wagenaar demonstrates how a multi-option referendum could be a valuable tool in future to gauge more nuanced public attitudes on divisive issues. By presenting several alternatives, they can encourage votes for constructive compromises rather than blunt protest votes.

Matters of consent: the Withdrawal Agreement does not violate the Good Friday Agreement

Matters of consent: the Withdrawal Agreement does not violate the Good Friday Agreement

John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary write that, contrary to the DUP’s claims, the draft Withdrawal Agreement does not violate the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement when it comes to consent. Instead, the proposals regarding Northern Ireland are reasonable and balanced.

The empty centre: why the Liberal Democrats need to demonstrate competence and unity to win votes

The empty centre: why the Liberal Democrats need to demonstrate competence and unity to win votes

Liberal parties in western democracies which advocate broadly centrist economic policies, such as the Liberal Democrats, have performed badly in some recent elections, even though their policies are often in tune with a large proportion of the electorate. Using survey data Roi Zur finds they have little scope for winning votes by shifting in either direction on the left-right spectrum. Instead they need to demonstrate they are a credible and competent governing party, able to prevent Brexit, and are not just expressing their opposition to it.

Book Review | Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point by Gyan Prakash

Book Review | Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point by Gyan Prakash

In Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy’s Turning Point, Gyan Prakash challenges historiography that presents the Emergency of 1975–77 as an anomalous period in India’s recent history, instead showing how it grew out of existing political traditions, the legacies of which can still be felt in the present. This valuable analysis not only shows how Indian socioeconomic structures have moulded its politics, but also suggests a way to understand the wider challenges facing contemporary politics in many parts of the world, writes Ben Margulies.

Posted in: Book reviews
Canada’s 2019 federal election: is the first-past-the-post electoral system broken?

Canada’s 2019 federal election: is the first-past-the-post electoral system broken?

In Canada’s recent federal election, the most popular party by vote share, the Conservative Party, did not gain the most seats in parliament and smaller parties also lost out, to the benefit of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, who will form a minority government. Chris Stafford assesses what this means for the country’s on-going debate on electoral reform.

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

The UK government’s latest attempt to push a deal through Parliament failed when the DUP withdrew support. Mary C. Murphy explains the DUP’s thinking and options. She writes that, while they can continue to pursue a strategy which is focused on revising the deal to their satisfaction, it is also possible that they could change tack completely and re-align their position in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

Citizens (mistakenly) perceive female-led political parties as more moderate

Citizens (mistakenly) perceive female-led political parties as more moderate

Does women’s leadership affect citizens’ perceptions of political parties? Diana Z. O’Brien shows that female-led parties are perceived as more moderate than male-led organisations, even though election manifestos authored by these parties are actually slightly more extreme than those by male-led parties.

Book Review | The Far Right Today by Cas Mudde

Book Review | The Far Right Today by Cas Mudde

In The Far Right Today, Cas Mudde provides readers with a comprehensive overview of contemporary far right politics: a pressing task considering that groups or parties once located on the fringe of mainstream politics have experienced a surge in popularity over recent years across Europe and beyond. The most worrying aspect of this surge, argues the author, is the mainstreaming and normalisation of the far right. This is an excellent, accessible and timely book that effectively challenges conventional thinking on the topic, writes Katherine Williams.

Posted in: Book reviews, Populism
Northern Ireland and the Withdrawal Agreement

Northern Ireland and the Withdrawal Agreement

Boris Johnson’s proposed withdrawal agreement with the EU, which Parliament votes on today, establishes different customs arrangements for Northern Ireland than for Great Britain, to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. Sean Swan explains how having differential arrangements for Northern Ireland and Great Britain is not novel, and is a reflection of long-existing realities in Northern Ireland’s governance. For them to have democratic legitimacy, though, the Northern Ireland Assembly needs to be reconvened.

Posted in: Northern Ireland
Is the resurgence of Europe’s far-right a cultural or an economic phenomenon?

Is the resurgence of Europe’s far-right a cultural or an economic phenomenon?

There has been a spectacular rise in support for far-right parties in Europe over the last two decades, but what has driven this electoral success? Drawing on new research, Vasiliki Georgiadou, Lamprini Rori and Costas Roumanias demonstrate that different types of far-right party have benefitted from different factors: economic insecurity has helped increase support for ‘extremist right’ parties, while cultural factors have been associated with the growth of the ‘populist radical right’.