Informing and engaging citizens

Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Looking at the case of the Catalonia independence debate, Joan Balcells and Albert Padró-Solanet find that the popular perception of social media as creating polarised echo-chambers of extreme political opinions is far from the full picture. They find evidence that Twitter can foster engaged, substantive conversations across partisan lines. This picture demonstrates how social media has the capacity to genuinely improve democratic discussions, and open up arenas of public debate.

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Although democracy is viewed positively across Europe, surprisingly little is known about the type of democratic processes citizens support. Drawing on new research in Germany, Saskia Goldberg, Dominik Wyss and André Bächtiger illustrate that disenchanted citizens want stronger involvement in political decision-making, irrespective of the concrete participation format.

What makes a Prime Minister great?

What makes a Prime Minister great?

On the day one occupant of Number 10 Downing Street leaves office, and another enters, Ben Worthy assesses how the British public rate previous Prime Ministers, and how the tricky mantle of ‘great’ tends to depend on fickle collective memories, partisan politics – and war.

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Advocates for public deliberation claim that increased citizen involvement in political decision-making can improve democratic governance. Studies have shown that deliberation can be beneficial for participants, but less is known about its impact on the wider public. Looking at the case of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews in Oregon, Katherine R. Knobloch shows that knowing about or using the information provided by deliberative institutions can improve the public’s faith in self-government. 

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

The various Brexit allegiances of Britain’s newspapers are clear. But what do their readers think? Heinz Brandenburg analyses data from the British Election Study Internet Panel to find out how intransigent – or open to compromise – their readers are, and how readerships have shifted since Brexit.

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest  wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the highly centralised, elitist, top-down Westminster model are by no means new. Consecutive Prime Ministers – from Blair to May – vowed to take on vested powers and interests, challenge the status quo, and change the way politics is conducted. Yet, as Patrick Diamond, David Richards, and Alan Wager show, they have all failed to deliver their promises. While another wave of anti-politics is looming, they ask how the established parties will accommodate it.

The Brex Factor: how a citizens’ assembly on Brexit could learn from reality TV

The Brex Factor: how a citizens’ assembly on Brexit could learn from reality TV

Some politicians and political scientists have suggested that a citizens’ assembly would be the best way to build public consent for any Brexit solution. For this to work, argues Conor Farrington, any initiative would need to innovate to engage the public, and in this it could learn from mass television entertainment.

Representing interest groups: umbrella organisations enjoy preferential access to the legislative arena but not to the media

Representing interest groups: umbrella organisations enjoy preferential access to the legislative arena but not to the media

Lobbying for access to parliamentary and media debates potentially allows organisations to represent the interests of their members and exert political influence. Wiebke Marie Junk looks at which types of interest groups are favoured when it comes to lobbying access in the United Kingdom and Germany. She finds that access to the legislature is higher for ‘umbrella’ organisations that unite many member groups, while representing a higher number of individual people does not seem to matter.

The flawed assumption of the centrist paradox and support for democracy

The flawed assumption of the centrist paradox and support for democracy

The so called ‘centrist paradox’ refers to the idea, proposed by David Adler, that an observed decline in support for democracy across the world has occurred primarily among centrist voters, rather than those who lie at the extremes of the policy spectrum. Elli Palaiologou argues that this theory is based on a flawed assumption that all individuals located between the left and right can be regarded as ‘centrist’. In reality, this ‘centrist’ group contains a large number of individuals who are simply less willing to take strong political positions, including on the value of democracy.