Elections and electoral systems

Citizens with economically left-wing and culturally right-wing views vote less and are less satisfied with politics

Citizens with economically left-wing and culturally right-wing views vote less and are less satisfied with politics

Many citizens hold left-wing positions on economic issues and right-wing positions on cultural issues, but few parties do so. How do these ‘left-authoritarian’ citizens react to the absence of parties that fit their views? Drawing on a new study, Sven Hillen and Nils Steiner report that left-authoritarian citizens are less likely to vote, less satisfied with democracy and have lower levels of trust in political institutions when there is no viable left-authoritarian party.

Be careful what you wish for: Brexit and the call for another referendum

Be careful what you wish for: Brexit and the call for another referendum

Whether or not to hold a referendum on Brexit is a clear dividing line between parties in the upcoming UK general election. However, Philipp Harms and Claudia Landwehr argue that support for such a measure is often largely contingent on expected outcomes, and so can entrench political divides. More deliberative democratic innovations might therefore be better suited to resolving the UK’s political conflicts.

Referendums can be more effective if voters can choose from several options

Referendums can be more effective if voters can choose from several options

As the UK prepares for a second general election since the 2016 Brexit referendum, Charlotte C.L. Wagenaar demonstrates how a multi-option referendum could be a valuable tool in future to gauge more nuanced public attitudes on divisive issues. By presenting several alternatives, they can encourage votes for constructive compromises rather than blunt protest votes.

The empty centre: why the Liberal Democrats need to demonstrate competence and unity to win votes

The empty centre: why the Liberal Democrats need to demonstrate competence and unity to win votes

Liberal parties in western democracies which advocate broadly centrist economic policies, such as the Liberal Democrats, have performed badly in some recent elections, even though their policies are often in tune with a large proportion of the electorate. Using survey data Roi Zur finds they have little scope for winning votes by shifting in either direction on the left-right spectrum. Instead they need to demonstrate they are a credible and competent governing party, able to prevent Brexit, and are not just expressing their opposition to it.

Canada’s 2019 federal election: is the first-past-the-post electoral system broken?

Canada’s 2019 federal election: is the first-past-the-post electoral system broken?

In Canada’s recent federal election, the most popular party by vote share, the Conservative Party, did not gain the most seats in parliament and smaller parties also lost out, to the benefit of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, who will form a minority government. Chris Stafford assesses what this means for the country’s on-going debate on electoral reform.

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

Are the DUP for turning? When the Union is perceived to be at risk, all options are on the table

The UK government’s latest attempt to push a deal through Parliament failed when the DUP withdrew support. Mary C. Murphy explains the DUP’s thinking and options. She writes that, while they can continue to pursue a strategy which is focused on revising the deal to their satisfaction, it is also possible that they could change tack completely and re-align their position in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

Requiring voter ID in British elections suggests the government is adopting US ‘voter suppression’ tactics

Requiring voter ID in British elections suggests the government is adopting US ‘voter suppression’ tactics

This week’s Queen’s Speech revived proposals to introduce photographic ID requirements for voting in British elections. The Democratic Audit team assess the available evidence on the likely consequence of such a measure, and consider whether the legislation tackles the right priorities for improving our elections on which there is consensus, or suggests moves to enhance Tory election chances via excluding voters presumed unfavourable to them.

Whatever happened to the Westminster Model? The ‘Italianisation’ of British politics

Whatever happened to the Westminster Model? The ‘Italianisation’ of British politics

The UK was once viewed by political scientists as embodying a distinct majoritarian form of politics – the ‘Westminster Model’ – that stood in contrast to the ‘consensus’ democracies found elsewhere in Europe. Several of the countries in the latter group, such as Italy, were often assumed to be inherently prone to instability in comparison to the UK. Yet as Martin J. Bull explains, politics in Westminster now has some striking similarities with the Italian approach that once invited scorn from British observers.

Why do ‘niche parties’ perform so well in European and subnational elections?

Why do ‘niche parties’ perform so well in European and subnational elections?

Single-issue parties, such as the Brexit Party and Greens, tend to do better in local and European elections across Europe. Emmy Lindstam examines why, and finds that voters are willing to vote switch on an issue they think is overlooked by their preferred party, particularly if they think the stakes are low for that election.

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

How do you ensure that political campaigns don’t rely on lies and misinformation? James Organ proposes changing election campaign law to prohibit knowingly false political statements by campaigners, and suggests that involving voters, via a citizens’ assembly, could be one way to ensure the quality of political information improves in any referendum.