Author Archive: Democratic Audit UK

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Trump’s fight over Covid-19 numbers shows how the hollowing out of expertise can be dangerous for democracy

Trump’s fight over Covid-19 numbers shows how the hollowing out of expertise can be dangerous for democracy

As in any emergency or disaster, institutional agreement over the statistics of the Covid-19 pandemic is incredibly important. During the crisis, President Trump has questioned federally requested research around the spread of the pandemic and the amount of equipment needed to tackle it. Philip Rocco writes on how Trump’s efforts to undermine a common understanding of the numbers around the crisis can be a threat to democracy itself.

The art of political survival: three lessons from Theresa May

The art of political survival: three lessons from Theresa May

Ben Worthy and Mark Bennister reflect on Theresa May’s short premiership and argue that, though her personal power did diminish after the 2017 general election, in this latter phase she retained more power of political office than often assumed.

Online voting can work, but only if we design systems that voters can have confidence in

Online voting can work, but only if we design systems that voters can have confidence in

Could online voting be used to ensure elections continue during the Covid-19 pandemic? Areeq Chowdhury sets out some key principles of accessibility, security and user experience which should form the basis of any internet voting system if it is to elicit public confidence.

Elections and Covid-19: making democracy work in uncertain times

Elections and Covid-19: making democracy work in uncertain times

Erik Asplund and Toby James discuss the dilemmas countries around the globe face about holding or postponing elections during the pandemic, and set out some guidelines to follow in ensuring democratic participation remains fair and open during the crisis.

Book Review | Contentious Rituals: Parading the Nation in Northern Ireland by Jonathan S. Blake

Book Review | Contentious Rituals: Parading the Nation in Northern Ireland by Jonathan S. Blake

In Contentious Rituals: Parading the Nation in Northern Ireland, Jonathan S. Blake offers a new examination of the complex phenomenon of Protestant parading in Northern Ireland, drawing on carefully compiled sociological and ethnographic data to argue that, in the words of his participants, what motivates the majority of paraders, musicians and spectators is not political, ethnic or religious chauvinism, but rather commitment to a longstanding cultural practice positioned as antipolitical. This is a nuanced and rich study, writes Nicholas Baker, that will be of great value to anyone interested in contemporary politics in Northern Ireland.

Not all scrutiny is equal: how parliaments vary in scrutinising the implementation of legislation

Not all scrutiny is equal: how parliaments vary in scrutinising the implementation of legislation

Parliaments can contribute to more accountable governance, not just by questioning government ministers in the chamber, but also by monitoring the implementation and impact of the laws they pass. This post-legislative scrutiny can be divided into four categories: passive, informal, formal and independent forms. Comparatively, parliaments vary according to the extent to which they carry out post-legislative scrutiny. Franklin De Vrieze discusses these variations and argues that to be effective parliaments should both look at the implementation of legislation, its impact and at unintended consequences of some laws. At the time of the Covid-19 crisis, good-quality scrutiny of policies and legislation in all areas, including legislation on public health and government’s response to Covid-19, has become all the more important.

Why resilience to online disinformation varies between countries

Why resilience to online disinformation varies between countries

There are widespread concerns about so-called ‘fake news’ and its impact on citizens and democracy. The current crisis caused by the corona pandemic demonstrates how quickly disinformation can spread. Edda Humprecht argues that differing media environments, including levels of political polarisation and economic incentives to produce fake news, create varying levels of susceptibility to disinformation, with the US uniquely vulnerable. Any policy responses to increase resilience to online disinformation need to take these structural differences into account.

Assessing England’s metro-mayors: a mixed picture

Assessing England’s metro-mayors: a mixed picture

Directly elected mayors for Combined Authorities have been introduced in a piecemeal fashion across England since 2017. Jane Roberts analyses how they have operated, and finds that there is considerable variation in their effectiveness, depending on local circumstances and individual leadership, but to understand these differences, better evaluation of their performance is needed.

Book Review | Other People’s Politics: Populism to Corbynism by J.A. Smith

Book Review | Other People’s Politics: Populism to Corbynism by J.A. Smith

In Other People’s Politics: Populism to Corbynism, J.A. Smith seeks to critically analyse and historicise our contemporary political moment, tracing the conditions that made movements like Corbynism possible, while also diagnosing their shortcomings and mapping out potential strategies for a new Left Populism. This is a welcome critical intervention into debates on populism and should be read by scholars across the social sciences and humanities, recommends Paul Ewart.

How Covid-19 is altering our conception of citizenship

How Covid-19 is altering our conception of citizenship

The Covid-19 pandemic is a public health emergency, but it also has the potential to impact on many other elements of European societies beyond health services. Jelena Dzankic and Lorenzo Piccoli write on the effect the outbreak is having on the uses and meanings of citizenship.