Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger

Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger

Patrick Diamond writes that the process of governing is being transformed into a highly politicised form of campaigning, with polling and short-term politics being more important to Ministers than long-term policy. This puts the capacity of the state to steer a sensible course through the perilous post-Brexit landscape in serious doubt.

Book Review | Measuring Poverty Around the World by Anthony B. Atkinson, edited by John Micklewright and Andrea Brandolini

Book Review | Measuring Poverty Around the World by Anthony B. Atkinson, edited by John Micklewright and Andrea Brandolini

The meticulous and passionate editorial work of John Micklewright and Andrea Brandolini has enabled the publication of Measuring Poverty Around the World, a posthumous opus from Anthony B. Atkinson, a leading and inspirational authority in the field of poverty and inequality. This book demonstrates the strength of Atkinson’s legacy for future generations of poverty scholars and underscores how the centrality of poverty to the political debate makes its measurement both a vital and delicate task, writes Roberto Iacono.

Posted in: Book reviews
Why it’s bad for democracy when we ignore the voices we would rather not hear

Why it’s bad for democracy when we ignore the voices we would rather not hear

Democracy requires that citizens be empowered to speak their minds across a wide range of issues. But in order to ensure democratic equality, do we have to include and listen even to those hateful, racist, or misogynistic voices that would seek to undermine democracy? Mary F. (Molly) Scudder argues that it is only with reference to the concept of ‘uptake’ that we can effectively deal with anti-democratic speech and arguments. She argues that if we first consider and critically engage with what others have to say, we are then justified in rejecting their input and even shutting them down. Focusing on the importance of uptake in democratic deliberation, she argues,can sound the alarm – alerting people to threats to democracy – while also helping to ensure that the voices of the marginalised and oppressed are not dismissed or ignored.

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

David Howarth explains the legislation and parliamentary rules that determine who is recognised as the official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. The political implications of these procedures are significant, given current discussions about who would form a government if the current one were to lose a vote of no confidence.

England’s local elections 2019: Part 2 – Rainbow and other coalitions

England’s local elections 2019: Part 2 – Rainbow and other coalitions

In the second of two articles reporting the outcomes of May’s local elections, Chris Game looks in detail at how a high number of multi-party ‘Rainbow’ coalitions have been agreed, and highlights how, behind certain patterns of participation, there are numerous varieties of governing pacts – which, perhaps, Westminster politicians could learn from.

Do populist-leaning citizens support direct democracy?

Do populist-leaning citizens support direct democracy?

Populist parties across Europe often support direct democracy, for example through frequent referendums. Do their voters support these initiatives too and why? Tina Freyburg, Robert Huber and Steffen Mohrenberg distinguish between citizens who support direct democracy as a way of giving power to ‘the people’ and those, known as stealth democrats, who do so out of a scepticism that politicians can be effective. They find that both sets of attitudes independently are associated with support for direct democracy, and argue that the distinction is crucial to furthering the debate about populism in Europe.

Book Review | Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, The Periphery and the Future of France by Christophe Guilluy

Book Review | Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, The Periphery and the Future of France by Christophe Guilluy

In Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, The Periphery and the Future of France, Christophe Guilluy sets out the predicament of the ‘left-behind’ regions of France and excoriates the elites that have presided over their decline. While Guilluy does make a novel set of claims about the working-class response to recent political developments, peripheral France requires a more granular analysis than that found in this book, writes John Tomaney, which offers polemic over convincing scholarship.

Posted in: Book reviews
Brexit and parliamentary legitimation: beyond constitutional minutiae

Brexit and parliamentary legitimation: beyond constitutional minutiae

David Judge writes that, while much of the discussion around Brexit and Parliament is about procedure and conventions, it should also be about the bigger picture: what does Brexit tell us about the fundamental principles of the UK’s parliamentary state and representative democracy?

Posted in: Parliament
England’s local elections 2019: council outcomes from ‘no overall control’ results

England’s local elections 2019: council outcomes from ‘no overall control’ results

With the two main parties losing hundreds of council seats, and the Lib Dems, Greens and Independents gaining across England in May’s local elections, the number of councils where no single party had a majority increased in 2019. In the first of two articles, Chris Game details how this has shaped governing outcomes for English councils ­– and demonstrates why reporting political coalitions in local government matters.

When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

In recent years there have been several attempts by Western European governments to reform second chambers, including in the UK, though the majority of proposals have failed to pass. Michelangelo Vercesi assesses the conditions when such reforms are proposed, and finds that they are often instigated during times of democratic strain when the governing party wishes to reduce the number of veto players. However, the reforms tend to fail when there is not a broad consensus for the proposals, which has implications for considering when a democracy is able to instigate reforms.