Achieving accountable government

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.

Just how special are special advisers within the UK civil service?

Just how special are special advisers within the UK civil service?

Using the most recent government data, Sir Richard Mottram (LSE) discusses what we know about special advisers, and specifically what we know about their pay. He argues that more light needs to be shed both on the system and the government’s narrative about it. 

Constitutional change in local government: council backbench committees have the potential to enhance overview and scrutiny

Constitutional change in local government: council backbench committees have the potential to enhance overview and scrutiny

The Wright reforms of the House of Commons’ select committees increased the effectiveness of parliamentary scrutiny in Westminster. Andrew Coulson (Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham) assesses whether the proposed Betts reforms to local authority oversight and scrutiny committees could do the same for local government.