Informing and engaging citizens

Digital technology is changing party politics, the interesting question is how

Digital technology is changing party politics, the interesting question is how

It is evident from the 2017 general election, writes Kate Dommett, that digital technology has been fully embraced by political parties and incorporated into campaigning strategies. It is also creating opportunities for satellite campaigns to mobilise citizens. Longer term, digital innovations have the potential to reshape the nature of engagement between citizens and parties, though these more fundamental changes are not yet being implemented.

Citizen-centred democratic theory is dead. Long live citizen-centred theory! It’s time we designed a politics for citizens as they really are, not how we’d like them to be

Citizen-centred democratic theory is dead. Long live citizen-centred theory! It’s time we designed a politics for citizens as they really are, not how we’d like them to be

Forms of democracy that depend on high levels of public participation and civic deliberation are unrealistic, argues Phil Parvin. Instead, political reform should focus less on increased participation and more on representation, in particular to counter the effects of elite lobbying by economically powerful interest groups. 

The UK and Canada: democratic legitimacy could matter more than geographic representation in the upper chamber

The UK and Canada: democratic legitimacy could matter more than geographic representation in the upper chamber

Upper chambers have the potential to represent different geographic groups within a multinational state, and so accommodate minority identities. However, research by Mike Medeiros, Damien Bol and Richard Nadeau indicates that, though there is support for democratic reform of the House of Lords and Senate in Scotland and Quebec respectively, there is, in fact, greater support for central democratic reform than for subnational representation.

Populism may well be inevitable in democracies, but it is also the cause of democratic disenchantment

Populism may well be inevitable in democracies, but it is also the cause of democratic disenchantment

Much has been written about populism and its move to the mainstream. Stephane Wolton and Carlo Prato argue that it has arisen, not so much from democratic dissatisfaction but from voters’ demands for reform, which leads politicians to engage opportunistically in a form of populism by campaigning on reformist agendas regardless of their ability to successfully carry them out. 

A citizens’ convention for UK democracy is more necessary with every passing day

A citizens’ convention for UK democracy is more necessary with every passing day

Many democratic societies have benefited from establishing conventions of citizens chosen at random to deliberate on major constitutional questions. Now is the time for the UK to have its own citizens’ convention, argue Graham Allen and Andrew Blick, to rebuild and renew our fractured representative democracy.  

A new definition of economic democracy – and what it means for inequality

A new definition of economic democracy – and what it means for inequality

How democratic is an economy? And which countries are best at engaging the population in economic decision making? To answer these questions, writes Andrew Cumbers (University of Glasgow), the Democratising the Economy project has developed a new index of economic democracy, which incorporates a broad range of measures and reassess its relationship with inequality. The index shows that, though there is no single model for increasing economic democracy, Scandinavian countries perform particularly well in terms of economic participation, inequality and productivity. 

How MPs can make a case for action on climate change, even if voters aren’t yet interested

How MPs can make a case for action on climate change, even if voters aren’t yet interested

Voters are simply not asking their representatives to act on climate. Rebecca Willis draws on interviews with MPs to find whether they can construct a ‘representative claim’ and justify action on climate change.

Many Labour MPs have still to unequivocally reject ‘roll-out’ neoliberalism

Many Labour MPs have still to unequivocally reject ‘roll-out’ neoliberalism

Chuka Umunna recently defended the last Labour government against a left-wing critique that its modus operandi was fundamentally neoliberal. Ewan Gibbs and Sean Kippin argue this does not consider the nature of neoliberalism, particularly the distinction between its ‘roll-back’ and ‘roll-out’ variants. They argue that New Labour’s approach was indeed of the latter type.

Shaping the electoral success of populism: the effects of attributing blame on populist vote choice

Shaping the electoral success of populism: the effects of attributing blame on populist vote choice

Populist messages simplify highly complex political issues by pointing the finger at culpable elites. Michael Hameleers (University of Amsterdam) examines how exposure to media messages that blame corrupt national and European leaders for the problems citizens face affects people’s preferences and so contributes to the success of populist parties. 

Different visions of representation among voters and candidates in Wales

Different visions of representation among voters and candidates in Wales

Whose opinions should Assembly Members prioritise when carrying out their duties in the Welsh Assembly? Here, Siim Trumm (University of Nottingham) compares the views of voters and candidates on how AMs should vote when confronted with competing pressures. He finds that candidates are more likely to think that it is acceptable for AMs to discard the views of their voters in favour of their own views or those of their party than voters.