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Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Twitter and Facebook have become crucial arenas for political competition, but what about Instagram? In new research, Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte assesses how parties in Spain have used the image-based social media platform and finds that political newcomers like Podemos and Ciudadanos are most effective at engaging voters, particularly when they focus on political leaders and mobilising supporters, but that policy communication is less effective.

Top-down or bottom-up? Campaigns, social media, and the Scottish independence referendum

Top-down or bottom-up? Campaigns, social media, and the Scottish independence referendum

Using the 2014 referendum as a case study, Ana Ines Langer, Michael Comerford and Des McNulty look at the extent to which the use of social media by campaigns follows the command and control model, or a more bottom-up, decentralised approach. They find that depending on a number of factors, some campaigns selectively adopt digital tools that fit with the traditional top-down model; in other cases, the dynamics created by linking to other grassroots organisations can have transformative effects.

Democratising Hansard: continuing to improve the accessibility of parliamentary records

Democratising Hansard: continuing to improve the accessibility of parliamentary records

The official, substantially verbatim report of what is said in both houses of Parliament is an essential tool for ensuring democratic accountability. This record, Hansard, contains a wealth of data, but it is not always fully accessible and easy to search. Lesley Jeffries and Fransina de Jager explain how a new project, Hansard at Huddersfield, aims to improve access to the Hansard records and contribute new ways of searching the data.

Review of the year: Democracy in 2018

Review of the year: Democracy in 2018

We have reached the end of the year without a UK general election or referendum, but 2018 has been one of the most eventful, crisis-riven years in UK democracy (since the last one). Meanwhile, globally democracy seems under threat even in established liberal democracies. Below is a selection of our articles from throughout the year that have sought to make sense of what’s happening in the UK and across the globe.

Local policy responses to anti-Islamic protest in the UK need to consider both exclusionary and inclusionary approaches

Local policy responses to anti-Islamic protest in the UK need to consider both exclusionary and inclusionary approaches

Disruptive and antagonistic anti-Islamic protests in some towns and cities in the UK have posed a challenge to local authorities in how to respond to them. William Allchorn examines the variety of policy responses that have been attempted and suggests that inclusionary tactics that address narratives of polarisation need to be part of the democratic response.

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

Devolution encompasses a range of quite different solutions in three countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), plus markedly smaller delegations of powers to London and some English cities and regions. There remain important issues around the stability and effectiveness of these arrangements, which were designed to meet specific demands for national or regional control and to bring government closer to citizens. In an article from our book, The UK’s Changing Democracy, Diana Stirbu and Patrick Dunleavy explore how far relations between Westminster and the key devolved institutions have been handled democratically and effectively.

The UK’s democracy is in danger of backsliding – but current policy proposals are not the right fix

The UK’s democracy is in danger of backsliding – but current policy proposals are not the right fix

Jessica Garland from the Electoral Reform Society responds to our recent publication, The UK’s Changing Democracy, and highlights crucial areas for immediate reform, particularly in the areas of political finance and online advertising.

Democracy in small states: why everything we think we know about democratisation is (mostly) wrong

Democracy in small states: why everything we think we know about democratisation is (mostly) wrong

Why do small states often rank highly in comparative measures of democracy? Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal outline how their research into states with populations under one million challenges existing theories of why democracies can persist or fail.

Ending UK involvement in torture: lip service is not enough

Ending UK involvement in torture: lip service is not enough

The Intelligence and Security Committee recently published its report on British involvement in torture up to 2010 and as part of the ‘war on terror’. Ruth Blakeley and Sam Raphael comment on the report, and explain how the government must respond in order to comply with its human rights obligations.

Why does class affect voting?

Why does class affect voting?

Patterns of class voting remain important in many Western European countries, but the drivers of class support for particular parties remains under researched. Peter Egge Langsæther finds that, beyond left-right divides on economic policies, the salience of immigration and environmental policies by class is significant. However, less than half of class allegiance can be explained by these policy congruences, and so it is a subject that requires further research.