Achieving accountable government

We need to understand why states object to the presence of foreign-funded NGOs

We need to understand why states object to the presence of foreign-funded NGOs

More and more countries restrict how NGOs operate, often by limiting their funding. The response is frequently to argue that these restrictions flout international law or amount to crackdowns on the opposition. Annika E Poppe and Jonas Wolff (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) argue that the objections to NGO activity need to be taken seriously. In […]

Elections without democracy: how Singapore and Malaysia pre-empt dissent from the ground up

Elections without democracy: how Singapore and Malaysia pre-empt dissent from the ground up

Elections are not the only barometer of a country’s democratisation. In a number of hybrid regimes, forms of authoritarian strategies hinder the ability of opposition parties to cut through and challenge the existing order. Meredith L Weiss (University at Albany) explains how this works on the ground in Singapore and Malaysia. Similar PostsNow Indonesia has […]

Does the online tool WriteToThem foster meaningful communication with constituents?

Does the online tool WriteToThem foster meaningful communication with constituents?

Some predicted the internet would be the silver bullet that could deal with the deficits of representative democracy. Others were less optimistic about its potential to foster democracy. Hartwig Pautz (University of the West of Scotland) looks at whether the e-democracy tool WriteToThem allows for meaningful communication between citizens and their elected representatives. Similar PostsEveryone loves select committees […]

Form a party or start a pressure group? The choice facing nascent political movements

Form a party or start a pressure group? The choice facing nascent political movements

When you’re an under-represented group, changing policy is hard. Do you form a party or start a pressure group? Disagreements about the best way forward have historically riven the Green movement in both France and the UK. Ben Farrer (Knox College) explains why activists need to think about how national institutions in their country work […]

Corbyn’s rent controls: radical new housing policy, or just rhetoric?

Corbyn’s rent controls: radical new housing policy, or just rhetoric?

If there is one thing that Labour and Conservatives currently have in common, it is that both appear ready to embark on a step change in housing policy. But are Jeremy Corbyn’s recent announcements on rent controls a sign of change, or just another new political language for ‘masterly inactivity’? Ben Pattison (Sheffield Hallam University) reviews Labour’s […]

Book review | Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy

Book review | Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy

In Diploma Democracy: The Rise of Political Meritocracy, Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille examine how Western democracies are shaped by educational inequalities that lead to gaps in political participation and governments being dominated by academic elites. While some of the authors’ solutions for these ‘diploma democracies’ are less convincing, this is a very useful account of the influence of education on […]

How Parliament’s campaign of attrition forced the government to open up about Brexit

How Parliament’s campaign of attrition forced the government to open up about Brexit

The real battle over Brexit has not been about whether Parliament will get a final vote, writes Ben Worthy (Birkbeck University of London). The true fight is about information – about what kind of Brexit the government wants, and what its impact is likely to be. In this, Parliament has been rather successful. Pressure from select committees and […]

Book review | Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

Book review | Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States

In Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, James C Scott contributes to his longstanding intellectual project of re-evaluating the role of the state in political thought by looking at the development of the early agrarian states to challenge narratives of progress founded on state formation. While acknowledging that a number of objections can be […]

The new prison framework will be inflexible, costly and do nothing to ease chronic overcrowding and violence

The new prison framework will be inflexible, costly and do nothing to ease chronic overcrowding and violence

The Conservative manifesto planned to create a series of legally enforceable standards that prisons, and those who work with inmates, will have to meet. Nasrul Ismail and Nick de Viggiani (University of the West of England) have interviewed 30 prison policymakers about the proposed new framework. They warn its inflexibility will lead to a ‘compliance […]

Everyone loves select committees these days. But have they really changed?

Everyone loves select committees these days. But have they really changed?

The Wright reforms have been widely credited with reinvigorating select committees. Stephen Bates, Mark Goodwin (University of Birmingham) and Steve McKay (University of Lincoln) take issue with this assumption. They found the reforms have made little or no difference to MP turnover and attendance, which are driven by the parliamentary cycle. When MPs are jostling […]