Achieving accountable government

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

The Prime Minister has requested and received consent for the current parliament to be prorogued, and plans to introduce a new Queen’s Speech before the Brexit deadline of 31 October. David Howarth assesses the options available for those wishing to oppose this and enable the Commons to prevent a no deal Brexit.

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.

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.

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.

Is it too late to stop a no deal Brexit?

Is it too late to stop a no deal Brexit?

It has been suggested Boris Johnson could bypass Parliament’s opposition to a no deal Brexit by timing a general election so Parliament was not sitting over the 31 October deadline. David Howarth explains what procedures could be used to avoid this, if politicians are determined to stop no deal.

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Although democracy is viewed positively across Europe, surprisingly little is known about the type of democratic processes citizens support. Drawing on new research in Germany, Saskia Goldberg, Dominik Wyss and André Bächtiger illustrate that disenchanted citizens want stronger involvement in political decision-making, irrespective of the concrete participation format.

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Advocates for public deliberation claim that increased citizen involvement in political decision-making can improve democratic governance. Studies have shown that deliberation can be beneficial for participants, but less is known about its impact on the wider public. Looking at the case of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews in Oregon, Katherine R. Knobloch shows that knowing about or using the information provided by deliberative institutions can improve the public’s faith in self-government. 

Grand corruption and the authoritarian turn

Grand corruption and the authoritarian turn

If incoming governments in liberal democracies wish to use public contracts to benefit those loyal to them, they face institutional constraints. To implement corrupt procurement strategies they would need to sabotage these checks and balances. By comparing procurement data from Hungary and the UK, Liz Dávid-Barrett and Mihály Fazekas can identify the relative effect of such anti-democratic institutional changes, as seen in Hungary, on government patronage.

Evidence from Australia: women are under-represented in senior political appointments, and this affects the representation of women in parliament

Evidence from Australia: women are under-represented in senior political appointments, and this affects the representation of women in parliament

Political advisers can help shape public policy. They are also often the politicians of the future, so it matters who they are. Using a unique data resource from Australia, Marija Taflaga and Matthew Kerby tracked men’s and women’s differing career trajectories in Australian government over time, and found that men were more likely to reach senior levels, and then more likely to enter parliament.

Does the House of Commons have power without influence?

Does the House of Commons have power without influence?

The impasse over the Withdrawal Agreement has highlighted the inability of the House of Commons to shape the substance of the Brexit deal. There is a growing sense of frustration at the apparent unwillingness of MPs to face up to the limited choices before them, writes Jack Simson Caird. A key lesson from the Article 50 process is that the UK needs a parliamentary system which is more oriented towards consensus and that is less adversarial, he concludes.