Improving voting and elections

Why has Turkmenistan’s despotic president created the characteristics of a democracy?

Why has Turkmenistan’s despotic president created the characteristics of a democracy?

The incumbent President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was duly elected in February with almost 98% of the vote. But why did a man with such a firm grip on power – he has ruled since 2007 – bother to hold elections at all? Why take the risky step of allowing other candidates to run and […]

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 […]

Do centre-right parties win back votes from the far right by talking about immigration?

Do centre-right parties win back votes from the far right by talking about immigration?

With the rise of far-right parties in Europe during the 2000s, some centre-right parties spotted an opportunity to win back votes by pivoting towards immigration. James F Downes (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Matthew Loveless (European University Institute) find that they were more successful if they were out of government at the time. Incumbent centre-right parties, […]

Votes at 16: we need a proper conversation about when adulthood begins

Votes at 16: we need a proper conversation about when adulthood begins

The vexed question of whether people should be allowed to vote from the age of 16 has returned to the Commons with Jim McMahon MP’s Private Member’s Bill. Many argue – citing the Scottish independence referendum – that it would provide a democratic stimulus. Yet the evidence for that is lacking, say Andy Mycock (University of […]

Understanding Labour’s ingenious campaign strategy on Facebook

Understanding Labour’s ingenious campaign strategy on Facebook

The 2017 election saw a stronger than foreseen performance by the Labour Party. Matt Walsh explains how Labour’s Facebook success played out, heralding the party’s overall campaign performance. GE2017 was a numbers game: by achieving very high levels of organic reach, Labour managed to target undecided voters in marginal constituencies, energise voters who had drifted away from the […]

What happens when a strongman dictator creates his own political party?

What happens when a strongman dictator creates his own political party?

Around 40% of dictatorships are headed by a strongman ruler: Gaddafi in Libya and Idi Amin in Uganda were obvious examples. Erica Frantz (Michigan State University) finds that these regimes are more likely to democratise if their leaders create their own political parties. Most do this in order to reduce the risk of a military […]

Book review | Guilty Men – the Brexit Edition, by Tim Oliver

Book review | Guilty Men – the Brexit Edition, by Tim Oliver

Brexit is as big and dangerous a mistake as that of appeasement in the 1930s. So argues Cato the Younger in his book Guilty Men: Brexit Edition, reviewed here by Tim Oliver. Taking up the pen of his great grandfather, whose 1940 book of the same name destroyed the reputations of those responsible for appeasement, Cato the Younger is no […]

The EU is extraordinarily complex. But do we want to simplify it?

The EU is extraordinarily complex. But do we want to simplify it?

The EU’s institutional architecture is often regarded as being too complex for citizens to properly engage with, and both Jean-Claude Juncker and Emmanuel Macron have recently proposed some form of simplification – such as merging the President of the European Commission with the President of the European Council, or shrinking the Commission. Dimiter Toshkov argues that while […]

Referendum campaigns end up convincing voters that their preferred party is right

Referendum campaigns end up convincing voters that their preferred party is right

When people are deciding how to vote in a referendum, do they take their cue from party loyalty or by listening to the debate and making up their own minds? When Céline Colombo (University of Zurich) and Hanspeter Kriesi (European University Institute) analysed two Swiss referendums, they found that voters do pay attention to the arguments. But during […]

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