Elections and electoral systems

Party preferences and prior expectations moderate voters’ perceptions of winning and losing an election

Party preferences and prior expectations moderate voters’ perceptions of winning and losing an election

What is the relationship between who you vote for in an election and satisfaction with the outcome? Looking at evidence from four countries, which span both majoritarian and proportional systems, Carolina Plescia finds that, beyond objective measures of party outcome, public opinion on which party has won or lost is affected by a party’s change in vote share, voters’ expectations, existing party preferences and the electoral system under which it is contested.

Election petitions remain important to the integrity of UK elections, but reforms are urgently needed

Election petitions remain important to the integrity of UK elections, but reforms are urgently needed

Until recently, widespread confidence about the integrity of UK elections meant that almost no information was available about election petitions, the only legal mechanism through which a UK election result can be challenged. Stuart Wilks-Heeg and Caroline Morris present significant new data about elections petitions from 1900 to 2016. Their findings fill an important gap in our historical knowledge about electoral integrity and inform current debates about the need to reform the petition mechanism.

‘Conceived in Harlesden’: When do candidates emphasise their local connections in UK general elections?

‘Conceived in Harlesden’: When do candidates emphasise their local connections in UK general elections?

The personal characteristics of election candidates matter to voters. With election leaflets representing the most common form of contact voters have with Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs), when do leaflets emphasise a candidate’s personal traits and/or local connections? Caitlin Milazzo and Joshua Townsley use a dataset of more than 3,700 leaflets distributed during the 2015 and 2017 general elections to explore the conditions under which the personal characteristics of candidates appear in election communications.

Choosing winning candidates in proportional systems does not increase voter satisfaction

Choosing winning candidates in proportional systems does not increase voter satisfaction

Does expressing a preference for winning candidates as well as voting for a political party improve electoral satisfaction? Damien Bol and his colleagues test whether flexible-list PR improves voter satisfaction using the case of Belgium, and finds that – contrary to expectation – voting for winning candidates does not increase voters’ satisfaction with electoral outcomes compared with ‘party-list’ voters.

Has the gender gap in voter turnout really disappeared?

Has the gender gap in voter turnout really disappeared?

While the gender gap in electoral representation is widely acknowledged, it is often assumed that there is no equivalent underrepresentation of women in voter turnout. However, Filip Kostelka, André Blais and Elisabeth Gidengil find that, while women vote in equal numbers in first-order national elections, less high-profile local and supranational elections still see a disparity in turnout between men and women, which has implications for equal participation.

What party competition in England will look like after European Parliament elections end

What party competition in England will look like after European Parliament elections end

European Parliament elections may not have been popular, but they used proportional representation – something which England’s national elections lack. Heinz Brandenburg looks at what this means for smaller parties, which have a hard time making headway under the first-past-the-post system.

 ‘Votes for life’ for overseas electors? Principles, process and party politics

 ‘Votes for life’ for overseas electors? Principles, process and party politics

A Private Member’s Bill to extend the franchise to all British citizens living abroad is currently under consideration in Parliament. Susan Collard explains how these proposed reforms, which have significant implications for democratic participation, have become caught up in parliamentary procedure and partisan disputes.

The Great Brexit Crisis: we are in for an unprecedented shake up of the UK constitution, laws, conventions and politics

The Great Brexit Crisis: we are in for an unprecedented shake up of the UK constitution, laws, conventions and politics

The UK seems to be rapidly heading for one of the most tangled and tumultuous political periods in modern history as Brexit nears its apogee, writes Colin Talbot. Whether you think we’re headed to Valhalla or Ragnarok, the constitution, law, conventions and politics are all set to be tested in ways rarely seen. In this blog, he presents a quick guide to some of the institutions that will be severely tested over the next days and weeks.

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

A strange irony: How the EU withdrawal process ended up saving the Human Rights Act

Even though it looks increasingly likely the Brexit deal will not survive its first hurdle in parliament, there is yet more evidence in its pages that Brexit has saved the Human Rights Act and secured Britain’s long term future as party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), writes Frederick Cowell. In the Political Declaration on the Framework of Future relations with the EU, the document accompanying the withdrawal agreement, under the heading ‘core values and rights there is a commitment to ‘respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights’. In the text of the withdrawal agreement itself – which would be a legally binding on the government – there are provisions in the Protocols on Northern Ireland, which seem to assume the UK remains a party to the ECHR.

The UK is heading towards a constitutional crisis over Brexit

The UK is heading towards a constitutional crisis over Brexit

As the clock runs down on Article 50, a political crisis is looking increasingly likely. However, Iain Begg argues that this could become a more damaging constitutional crisis if Parliament is unable to settle how Brexit proceeds.