Improving voting and elections

Book reviews | A Brexit summer reading round-up

Book reviews | A Brexit summer reading round-up

Have you been struggling to keep up with all the new books on Brexit? Were you secretly planning to spend your summer holiday catching up on some of them? OK – perhaps not. Nonetheless, Tim Oliver has rounded up some of the best books about Brexit published since the referendum. Similar PostsThe rise of English nationalism is […]

Audit 2017: How well does the UK’s media system sustain democratic politics?

Audit 2017: How well does the UK’s media system sustain democratic politics?

The growth of ‘semi-democracies’ across the world, where elections are held but are rigged by state power-holders, has brought into ever-sharper focus the salience of a country’s media system for the quality of its democracy. Free elections without some form of media diversity and balance clearly cannot hope to deliver effective liberal democracy. As part […]

Audit 2017: How strong is the democratic integrity of UK elections? Are turnout, candidacies and participation maximised?

Audit 2017: How strong is the democratic integrity of UK elections? Are turnout, candidacies and participation maximised?

Across the world, there are many countries ‘where elections take place but are rigged by governments or unfairly conducted. And even in core liberal democracies (like the United States) political parties have now become deeply involved in gerrymandering constituencies and partisan efforts at ‘voter suppression’.  As part of our 2017 Audit of UK Democracy, Toby S […]

Audit 2017: How democratic is the overall set-up of devolved government within the UK?

Audit 2017: How democratic is the overall set-up of devolved government within the UK?

Devolution in the UK encompasses a range of quite different solutions in three countries (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), plus lesser delegations of powers to London and some English cities. Designed to meet specific demands for national or regional control and to bring government closer to citizens, there are important issues around the stability and […]

Outsourcing democracy to an algorithm: the tyranny of the tactical voting site

Outsourcing democracy to an algorithm: the tyranny of the tactical voting site

Anti-hard Brexit and ‘progressive’ sites that advised voters which of their local candidates to vote for were a popular feature of the 2017 General Election. Annabel Mullin questions the democratic legitimacy of effectively outsourcing one’s vote to an algorithm, and argues that detailed party manifestos have a deadening effect on political debate. Similar PostsA return […]

The absent demos: radical ideas for transforming the way MEPs are elected

The absent demos: radical ideas for transforming the way MEPs are elected

Brexit has pushed European law-makers to seriously talk about rebuilding the EU. Miriam Sorace argues that calls for democratising the EU political system have to be addressed immediately, and that priority should be given to reforms of the European elections. She advocates a uniform Open-List Proportional Representation System with small constituencies and the possibility for national parties to […]

A return to two-party politics? Don’t believe it

A return to two-party politics? Don’t believe it

The snap election may have seen the biggest combined vote between the two main parties since 1970, but this is not the result of lost voters returning to their political homes, writes Darren Hughes. On the contrary, it is the outcome of 21st century voting patterns playing out within a broken 19th century voting system. Similar PostsNo one won […]

Running elections: it’s an expensive job, and cash-strapped local authorities have to do it

Running elections: it’s an expensive job, and cash-strapped local authorities have to do it

Local authorities are responsible for running elections. But do they have enough money to do the job properly? Toby S James and Tyrone Jervier say the introduction of individual voter registration has made it much more expensive to compile the register. Authorities whose budgets have been cut are less likely to do public engagement and […]

The “empty centre”: how voters’ views have polarised since 2015

The “empty centre”: how voters’ views have polarised since 2015

Following up from his 2015 analysis on the economic and cultural positions of party supporters in England, Jonathan Wheatley uses 2017 data and finds that party supporters have become far more polarised – leaving a gap in the middle, occupied possibly by large numbers of undecided voters. It is this ’empty centre’ on the economic […]

Lend us your ears: fixing the crisis of legitimacy in politics

Lend us your ears: fixing the crisis of legitimacy in politics

A crisis in legitimacy afflicts British and American politics. Voters complain their voices go unheard. Democratic Audit editor Ros Taylor asks Harvard democracy professor Jane Mansbridge why, in a society where new channels of communication are opening up, politicians are increasingly distanced from the electorate. How does it help to explain Donald Trump’s success – and what are […]

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