Elections and electoral systems

The UK needs a new electoral system not a new political party

The UK needs a new electoral system not a new political party

The new Independent Group of former Labour and Conservative MPs says it wishes to fix the UK’s broken politics. However, argues Jack Bridgewater, the first step in fixing politics at the centre is to reform the electoral system.

Reading political tea leaves: forecasting British general election results

Reading political tea leaves: forecasting British general election results

Political polling has faced difficulties during recent UK elections. Drawing on methods used for US elections and elsewhere, Philippe Mongrain therefore proposes a new forecasting model, which takes into account the state of the economy, the cost of ruling for the incumbent party, leadership approval ratings and previous election results, and offers some improvements on existing polls for forecasting the vote share of all contending parties.

Self-regulation is not enough: The law on micro-targeted online political campaigns and big data needs reform

Self-regulation is not enough: The law on micro-targeted online political campaigns and big data needs reform

Election campaigning has changed radically with the growth of data-driven social media campaigns – most notably during the EU referendum campaign. The UK’s election law has not kept up. As part of a new report by the Electoral Reform Society, Bethany Shiner considers proposals for changes to the law to cover both the content of these campaigns and the methods of communication, and concludes that the enforcement of regulations for online political campaigns cannot be left to technology companies like Facebook.

Why it is essential we design the right digital democracy tools to suit local conditions

Why it is essential we design the right digital democracy tools to suit local conditions

Online tools that improve citizens’ access to information about their political system and enable greater democratic participation have become central to the political landscape in many democratic countries. A new report examines how such tools have worked in Sub-Saharan Africa, and finds that they can be effective, as long as initiatives are designed for each country’s circumstances, writes Rebecca Rumbul.

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.