Achieving accountable government

Gender and power-sharing – why a Citizens’ Assembly is needed in Northern Ireland

Gender and power-sharing – why a Citizens’ Assembly is needed in Northern Ireland

The prospects for Northern Ireland’s power-sharing democracy look bleak. A Citizens’ Assembly is planned for members of the public to deliberate on the disputed topics. Claire Pierson and Jennifer Thomson argue that these forms of public participation have a particular benefit for the representation of women, and has the potential to break down entrenched party political divides.

How is Oxfam being held accountable over the Haiti scandal?

How is Oxfam being held accountable over the Haiti scandal?

In February 2018, The Times newspaper revealed that Oxfam employees had been accused of sexual exploitation in Haiti. This event sparked a series of other reports about misconduct within major charities, which in turn raised serious questions about accountability in the NGO sector. Domenico Carolei looks at whether the systems of accountability that apply to British NGOs and charities working in poor countries are adequate and comprehensive. And he considers the voices still missing: those of the victims. 

How the political capture of state owned enterprises is damaging democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

How the political capture of state owned enterprises is damaging democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

Corruption is still viewed as a key problem in many states across Central and Eastern Europe. Drawing on recent research in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania, Clara Volintiru, Bianca Toma and Alexandru Damian highlight the problem of political actors using resources from state owned companies to help win elections. They argue that a widespread lack of accountability in managing public resources is threatening the quality of democracy in these states.

The UK shouldn’t be complacent about its high anti-corruption ranking: trouble lies ahead with Brexit

The UK shouldn’t be complacent about its high anti-corruption ranking: trouble lies ahead with Brexit

The latest edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index was published on 21 February. On the face of it, UK policymakers should be pleased: Britain has risen from 10th to 8th place. Daniel Hough explains why the UK shouldn’t be complacent about its cosy rating.

A citizens’ convention for UK democracy is more necessary with every passing day

A citizens’ convention for UK democracy is more necessary with every passing day

Many democratic societies have benefited from establishing conventions of citizens chosen at random to deliberate on major constitutional questions. Now is the time for the UK to have its own citizens’ convention, argue Graham Allen and Andrew Blick, to rebuild and renew our fractured representative democracy.  

Engaging the public with the scrutiny of legislation requires more than just asking for their views

Engaging the public with the scrutiny of legislation requires more than just asking for their views

Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Louise Thompson examine the impact of a stage of the legislative process piloted by the House of Commons in 2013, during which the public were invited to comment on a bill undergoing parliamentary scrutiny. They explain why, despite an impressive response, the Public Reading Stage failed to make much of an impact.

The power to nudge: can we democratise choice environments?

The power to nudge: can we democratise choice environments?

Governments around the world have adopted ‘nudge’ strategies to change public behaviours and so implement policy goals. For some commentators, this creates concerns about transparency and democratic control. However, writes Andreas T. Schmidt (University of Groningen), within an environment where private companies frequently adopt nudge strategies, public policy nudges need not have greater implications for democracy and transparency than other forms of government intervention, and can be one tool in exerting democratic control over private sector nudge tactics. 

Majoritarianism reinterpreted: why Parliament is more influential than often thought

Majoritarianism reinterpreted: why Parliament is more influential than often thought

Though Westminster is often seen as lacking the teeth to affect government policy, this is not the case, writes Felicity Matthews. She argues that reforms to shift the balance between government and parliament have served to offset the declining vote basis of government, and have ensured that Westminster remains responsive to a majority of the electorate through the legislative process.

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

American democracy sold to the highest bidder

If the quality of democracy is to be measured by the extent to which it constrains the economically dominant, then American democracy is failing, writes George Tyler. Recent research has shown how campaign financing is skewing policy influence towards top earners. This is in contrast to many northern European countries, which can offer practical models for the US to follow.   

The Lords are unlikely to derail or overly delay the passage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill

The Lords are unlikely to derail or overly delay the passage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill

Richard Reid explains why the House of Lords is unlikely to derail or overly delay the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill that is about to be introduced into the Chamber. He contends that while the mood of the House regarding Brexit is difficult to tell, it seems that there is little appetite for a direct collision with the government in the form of blocking or wrecking the bill. However, we are likely to see some successful amendments regarding the acquis, devolution and Parliamentary sovereignty that will win support from across the party groupings.