Improving voting and elections

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.

‘How We Vote’: British Columbia faces a complex choice about its electoral system

‘How We Vote’: British Columbia faces a complex choice about its electoral system

British Columbia’s voters face their third referendum on reforming the province’s electoral system. Christopher Stafford looks at the choices they face, and notes that the participation (or not) of undecided voters will be key to the result of this postal-vote referendum.

Do party leaflets and canvass visits increase voter turnout?

Do party leaflets and canvass visits increase voter turnout?

Experiments in the US consistently find that Get Out The Vote campaigns boost participation at election time. Is the same true for Britain? Using a field experiment carried out in cooperation with the Liberal Democrats in May 2017, Joshua Townsley finds that leaflets and canvass visits did boost turnout, but that postal voters were unaffected by campaign contact.

Patriotism, pessimism and politicians: understanding the vote to Leave

Patriotism, pessimism and politicians: understanding the vote to Leave

Ben Worthy reflects on the numerous overlapping reasons for the Brexit vote, the parallels with previous elections, and why a second vote risks exacerbating the anti-elite sentiments that underpinned it.

Conservative Brexiteers are offering unserious answers to serious questions in Northern Ireland: the consequences for the Union are significant

Conservative Brexiteers are offering unserious answers to serious questions in Northern Ireland: the consequences for the Union are significant

Proposals from backbench Brexiteer MPs as to how to resolve the border question in Northern Ireland fail to address the problem of maintaining a common set of standards with Ireland post-Brexit. Sean Swan argues that, given public opinion in England, a customs border in the Irish Sea, with divergence between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a likely outcome.

Lessons from Ireland’s recent referendums: how deliberation helps inform voters

Lessons from Ireland’s recent referendums: how deliberation helps inform voters

Ireland’s 2015 referendum on equal marriage and its 2018 one on abortion both had their origins in deliberative assemblies. But did such processes influence the result? The evidence suggests that the information and debate that came with these assemblies had an impact both on vote choice and turnout, writes Jane Suiter.

Why Boris Johnson is wrong about the Irish border (again)

Why Boris Johnson is wrong about the Irish border (again)

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has, once again, intervened in the Brexit debate about concerns over a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Sean Swan explains how Johnson has misrepresented the problem, and why the border question is of such symbolic ­and physical importance.

The dismantling of the State since the 1980s: Brexit is the wrong diagnosis of a real crisis

The dismantling of the State since the 1980s: Brexit is the wrong diagnosis of a real crisis

Abby Innes writes that the vote to leave the EU and the administrative chaos around it pull into focus the crisis we should have been talking about before: the failures of homegrown neoliberal policies and their dire implications. She argues that while Brexit has been heralded by supporters as a solution to a number of problems, what it will actually do is to accelerate to the point of ‘completion’ the already failed experiments to reform the state.

Campaign spending and voter turnout: does a candidate’s local prominence influence the effect of their spending?

Campaign spending and voter turnout: does a candidate’s local prominence influence the effect of their spending?

At election time, political candidates in Britain routinely spend significant sums of money on their local campaigns. Generally speaking, the more individual candidates spend, the higher turnout in that constituency. But while some candidates are major contenders in their area, many candidates who are unlikely to win also spend substantial sums on their campaigns. By analysing candidate spending data from the 2010 general election, Siim Trumm, Laura Sudulich and Joshua Townsley find that the money spent by viable contenders has a greater impact on voter turnout than spending by candidates who are unlikely to win. 

The backstop is dividing Northern Ireland. We urgently need new talks

The backstop is dividing Northern Ireland. We urgently need new talks

Brexit has become highly politicised in Northern Ireland. A damaging chasm is opening up between the two political blocs, and between the British and Irish governments, on the EU backstop. Mary C Murphy argues that a compromise formula is possible, but the lack of devolved government means new efforts – and new forums – will be needed to break the stalemate.