Elections and electoral systems

Do electoral results come as a surprise because our empirical models are limited?

Do electoral results come as a surprise because our empirical models are limited?

Recent elections in many European countries have seemed less predictable, as party systems fragment and new parties challenge the established ones on a range of issues. Looking at the recent case of Finland, Zhen Im, Hanna Wass, Heikki Hiilamo and Timo Kauppinen argue that political scientists need to develop new models for mapping multiple, changing issues for electoral competition.

Local elections 2019: Uncontested seats mean thousands of voters will be denied their democratic rights

Local elections 2019: Uncontested seats mean thousands of voters will be denied their democratic rights

Uncontested and under-contested council seats in English local elections mean that in areas where one party dominates, many voters face little or no choice about who their councillors are. Ian Simpson from the Electoral Reform Society argues that the solution to this democratic deficit is to reform the electoral system.

Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Twitter and Facebook have become crucial arenas for political competition, but what about Instagram? In new research, Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte assesses how parties in Spain have used the image-based social media platform and finds that political newcomers like Podemos and Ciudadanos are most effective at engaging voters, particularly when they focus on political leaders and mobilising supporters, but that policy communication is less effective.

A Brexit Assembly offers a way of overcoming the current deadlock

A Brexit Assembly offers a way of overcoming the current deadlock

Brexit needs its own dedicated assembly, a Brexit Assembly, argues Hjalte Lokdam. The Brexit process has revealed the difficulty of addressing a question of such extraordinary constitutional and societal significance within the ordinary parliamentary process. A Brexit Assembly of extraordinary representatives dedicated only to Brexit offers a way of overcoming the current deadlock.

This government has already lost the confidence of the House of Commons: the response should be to replace the government, not to neuter parliament

This government has already lost the confidence of the House of Commons: the response should be to replace the government, not to neuter parliament

The government and Parliament cannot agree how to proceed with Brexit. For some, the solution is for the government to prorogue Parliament and implement its Withdrawal Agreement without the confidence of the Commons. David Howarth argues that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act means a general election will not necessarily follow from such a loss of confidence, a new government formed by MPs from across the Commons is a viable option.

How not to recruit postal voters in the UK

How not to recruit postal voters in the UK

Joshua Townsley and Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte tested the ability of parties to recruit postal voters in a field experiment carried out during the 2018 local elections in London. The result? Sending personal letters persuading voters to become postal voters is not an effective recruitment technique.

A tale of two failures: poor choices and bad judgements on the road to Brexit

A tale of two failures: poor choices and bad judgements on the road to Brexit

How did we get where we are on Brexit? Many major political events are shaped by institutions and long-term social changes, but the political choices of leaders matter too. Ben Worthy assesses how the short-term decisions of David Cameron and Theresa May have led to this avoidable Brexit mess.

Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

The debate on Brexit has spurred discussion about how the UK’s exit from the EU could affect the devolved nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). But, writes Arianna Giovannini, the impact on England is also important to address, as the lack of a coherent devolution policy means that Brexit could have profound institutional, economic and political effects on the largest nation of the UK.

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

There is an ongoing debate in the UK over whether holding another referendum on EU membership would be democratic or not. Drawing on a new study, Sveinung Arnesen explains that while in general most citizens believe governments should follow the results of referendums on EU membership, this depends heavily upon the level of turnout, the size of the majority, and the outcome of the specific referendum in question.

Detecting election fraud: is it possible to identify manipulated vote counts?

Detecting election fraud: is it possible to identify manipulated vote counts?

In the quest to tackle electoral malpractice, election observers and political scientists have sought ways to identify when vote counts have been manipulated. One proposed method is to analyse non-random patterns in the last digits of vote counts. Verena Mack and Lukas F. Stoetzer tested this technique and found that it cannot reliably identify fraud, but that such experiments are a useful way to build up a set of potential identifiers of vote manipulation.