Improving voting and elections

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 […]

Making it easier to vote hasn’t cut health-related inequality in turnout. Quite the opposite

Making it easier to vote hasn’t cut health-related inequality in turnout. Quite the opposite

Conscious that people with disabilities and health problems may find it difficult to vote, some countries have tried to make it easier for them by introducing mobile polling stations and proxy or advance ballots. But as Hanna Wass, Mikko Matila (both University of Helsinki), Lauri Rapeli and Peter Söderlund (both Åbo Akademi University) write, these measures […]

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Audit 2017: How democratic is the Brexit process?

Many political and constitutional steps are needed in order to for the UK to leave the European Union, after 44 years as a full member. Cumulatively they form one of the biggest constitutional changes in British history, and one dogged by intense controversy and disputes. As part of our 2017 Audit of UK Democracy, Joelle Grogan examines […]

Without a change in leadership in Madrid or Catalonia, further conflict looks inevitable

Without a change in leadership in Madrid or Catalonia, further conflict looks inevitable

Following the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October, Bonnie N Field and Astrid Barrio write that a potential declaration of independence by the Catalan government could further escalate tensions and prompt an even more severe clash with the Spanish authorities. Yet without a change of leadership in either Madrid or Catalonia, calls for dialogue to find a consensual resolution […]

Metro mayors: the all-male club presiding over boards that are just 4% female

Metro mayors: the all-male club presiding over boards that are just 4% female

The six new metro mayors are all male. This might be less of a problem, writes Chris Game, if the Combined Authority boards they led were not overwhelmingly male too. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has tried to create a more balanced gender split, but attempts to do so elsewhere have met with resistance. Similar PostsAudit […]

Dual candidates running for the Welsh Assembly campaigned harder

Dual candidates running for the Welsh Assembly campaigned harder

There has been some controversy (and indecision) in Wales about whether National Assembly candidates should be allowed to stand for both a constituency and the regional list. Peter Hain argued it showed ‘utter contempt’ for voters, because someone who was rejected as an individual could nonetheless be elected. In the first two Assembly elections it […]

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: reflections on the first weekend

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit: reflections on the first weekend

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit – a gathering of randomly-selected people who will learn about the options for the form Brexit should take – has just begun its work. The project’s director Alan Renwick (UCL Constitution Unit) offers some initial, personal reflections on a highly successful first weekend. Similar PostsWhat would voters be asked in a second […]

Germany no longer bans extremist parties. But which European democracies do, and why?

Germany no longer bans extremist parties. But which European democracies do, and why?

As a last resort, democracies occasionally ban political parties. Angela Bourne and Fernando Casal Bértoa look at what kinds of parties have been outlawed in post-war Europe, and how the rationale for banning them has evolved. They explain how, early in 2017, Germany effectively put its party ban beyond use, forbearing even to close down […]

75 more votes in the right places – that’s all the Conservatives would have needed to govern alone

75 more votes in the right places – that’s all the Conservatives would have needed to govern alone

If just 75 people in the right constituencies had voted differently in the 2017 General Election, Theresa May would now have a working majority in the Commons. Chris Terry (Electoral Reform Society) examines some of the more extraordinary anomalies thrown up by the first-past-the-post system this year. In North East Fife the SNP beat the […]

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