The US Congress understands the importance of Special Forces oversight, why doesn’t the UK Parliament?

The US Congress understands the importance of Special Forces oversight, why doesn’t the UK Parliament?

The US Congress has recently ordered a review of the country’s special operations forces – something that the UK Parliament is unable to do. As special forces are increasingly used in actions overseas, and face growing questions about accountability and resources, Liam Walpole argues it is time for the UK government to abandon its outdated attitude and allow for the democratic oversight of special forces in Parliament.

Book Review | The Politics of the Anthropocene by John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

Book Review | The Politics of the Anthropocene by John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering

In The Politics of the Anthropocene, John S. Dryzek and Jonathan Pickering consider politics and governance for the time of the Anthropocene, exploring how it forces us to think anew about ideas of nature, justice, sustainability and democracy. The book not only attunes us to the depth of the challenges ahead, but also provides openings through which our politics can evolve with the dynamism and uncertainties of the Anthropocene era, writes Raj Kaithwar.

Posted in: Book reviews
Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

Brexit and devolution in England: what’s at stake

The debate on Brexit has spurred discussion about how the UK’s exit from the EU could affect the devolved nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). But, writes Arianna Giovannini, the impact on England is also important to address, as the lack of a coherent devolution policy means that Brexit could have profound institutional, economic and political effects on the largest nation of the UK.

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

How turnout, majority size, and outcome affect whether citizens think the result of an EU referendum should be implemented

There is an ongoing debate in the UK over whether holding another referendum on EU membership would be democratic or not. Drawing on a new study, Sveinung Arnesen explains that while in general most citizens believe governments should follow the results of referendums on EU membership, this depends heavily upon the level of turnout, the size of the majority, and the outcome of the specific referendum in question.

What explains mainstream party decline across Europe?

What explains mainstream party decline across Europe?

In new research on party systems in 16 European countries, Jae-Jae Spoon and Heike Klüver demonstrate that, as mainstream parties have converged towards the political centre, voters are switching support to more extreme parties on the right and left. This has significant implications for how mainstream parties can distinguish themselves while still attracting voters, and for government formation in increasingly fragmented systems. 

Book Review | Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

Book Review | Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger

In Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why it Matters Now, former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger offers an appraisal of news media today, drawing on his experience at the helm of the British newspaper that broke notable news stories relating to phone hacking, Wikileaks and the National Security Agency (NSA) revelations. While the book could include more self-reflection when it comes to Rusbridger’s business decisions as editor, this is a vital read for anyone interested in the viability of our media in the digital era, recommends Peter Carrol.

Posted in: Book reviews
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.

Democratic decay: the threat with a thousand names

Democratic decay: the threat with a thousand names

States across the globe are facing increasing political and social threats that are eroding the quality of their democratic systems. In response, academics, policy-makers and politicians have adopted a plethora of terms that attempt to describe this process of democratic decay. Tom Gerald Daly argues that, while it is impossible to impose uniform terminology, if we wish to confront these challenges to liberal democracy, more work needs to be done to map the academic landscape, including greater cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Detecting election fraud: is it possible to identify manipulated vote counts?

Detecting election fraud: is it possible to identify manipulated vote counts?

In the quest to tackle electoral malpractice, election observers and political scientists have sought ways to identify when vote counts have been manipulated. One proposed method is to analyse non-random patterns in the last digits of vote counts. Verena Mack and Lukas F. Stoetzer tested this technique and found that it cannot reliably identify fraud, but that such experiments are a useful way to build up a set of potential identifiers of vote manipulation.