It was right to delay England’s local elections, but we must consider the wider impact of Covid-19 on electoral administration

It was right to delay England’s local elections, but we must consider the wider impact of Covid-19 on electoral administration

Local and mayoral elections across England have been delayed from May 2020 to May 2021. Postponing them was necessary, writes Alistair Clark, but we must also look at the longer-term impact of Covid-19 on administering elections in the UK and globally to maintain democratic accountability under difficult circumstances.

Book Review | The New Populism: Democracy Stares into the Abyss by Marco Revelli

Book Review | The New Populism: Democracy Stares into the Abyss by Marco Revelli

In The New Populism: Democracy Stares into the Abyss, Marco Revelli explores the definitions, historical development and electoral geography of populism across much of Europe and the United States, focusing particularly on the relationship between populist politics and neoliberalism. While the book provides a wealth of detail on the ideology and history of populism and is particularly strong in examining Italy and its various populist vehicles, its reiteration of familiar themes in the literature risks the book falling behind the cutting edge of populism studies, writes Ben Margulies.

Posted in: Book reviews, Populism
General election 2019: a postcode lottery

General election 2019: a postcode lottery

The 2019 general election produced a strong Conservative majority in the House of Commons, with the first-past-the-post electoral system delivering the party 56% of parliamentary seats on the basis of 43.6% of all votes. Beyond this national figure, Ian Simpson explains, the nations and regions of the UK returned some even more disproportional results, meaning millions of voters across the UK are left unrepresented in Parliament.

Reforming Whitehall: bluff, bluster, brilliance and brains

Reforming Whitehall: bluff, bluster, brilliance and brains

Geoff Mulgan assesses Dominic Cummings’ proposals for reforming government and argues that, while bringing new people and ideas into Number 10 can be welcome, there are several pitfalls, not least in failing to learn from past attempts at reform.

How internet voting could help to make more votes count

How internet voting could help to make more votes count

Trials for online voting have been introduced in a handful of countries, and the evidence for whether it can improve access to voting and turnout is still sparse. However, looking at the case of Geneva canton, Micha Germann argues that there is a potential further benefit: online voting platforms can be designed to help voters avoid inadvertent ballot errors, and so reduce ‘lost votes’.

Book Review | No. 10: The Geography of Power at Downing Street by Jack Brown

Book Review | No. 10: The Geography of Power at Downing Street by Jack Brown

Few front doors are as instantly recognisable as that of 10 Downing Street, but can its interior tell us anything worthwhile about politics? In No. 10: The Geography of Power at Downing Street, Jack Brown argues that not only have individual UK Prime Ministers shaped the building during their tenure, but the capacity and shape of No. 10 have also influenced the role of the PM and the machinery around it. Packed with anecdotes and descriptions, this is a novel analysis, writes Artemis Photiadou, that successfully makes the case for incorporating No. 10 into future studies of British politics.

Posted in: Book reviews
Most populist radical right parties across Europe are not eager to leave the EU

Most populist radical right parties across Europe are not eager to leave the EU

After the 2016 Brexit referendum, there was speculation that other Eurosceptic parties across the EU would try to capitalise on the result and advocate their own countries’ exit. However, Stijn van Kessel finds that any initial enthusiasm among populist radical right parties for EU-exit quickly faded, and most have been muted or equivocal in their Euroscepticism, concentrating instead on more immediate concerns of voters, who generally do not prioritise the EU.

Female parliamentarians still face a motherhood penalty, but the evidence globally suggests it can be ended

Female parliamentarians still face a motherhood penalty, but the evidence globally suggests it can be ended

It has long been assumed that female politicians face a trade-off between having a family life and a successful parliamentary career, while their male colleagues do not. Devin Joshi and Ryan Goehrung find that, while female MPs are still more likely to be unmarried and have fewer children, the gap in parental and marital status of members of parliament varies considerably internationally. They argue that by implementing social reforms to reduce gender inequality, and introducing specific reforms to create more inclusive parliaments, this gap could be closed worldwide.

Posted in: Parliament
Australian politics shows why the de-separation of political and administrative careers matters for democracy

Australian politics shows why the de-separation of political and administrative careers matters for democracy

One cornerstone of executive politics in established liberal democracies has long been a system for controlling government corruption and malfeasance that separates out clear roles for the changing elite of elected politicians and their advisers, and the permanent administrators running the civil service. Yet in Australia Keith Dowding and Marija Taflaga find that the growing role of special advisers, plus increased mobility from adviser roles into career public-service pathways, is now an integral factor in the re-emergence of substantial ministerial scandals.

Book Review | Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration by Javier Hidalgo

Book Review | Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration by Javier Hidalgo

In Unjust Borders: Individuals and the Ethics of Immigration, Javier S. Hidalgo makes a clear and engaging case for open borders, arguing that immigration control is unjustly coercive and outlining the responsibilities we have as individuals when it comes to responding to this injustice. This book is essential reading for scholars studying migration and policymakers policing it, writes Mollie Gerver, as well as for all citizens deciding what to do in a world where borders remain closed and movement remains curtailed.

Posted in: Book reviews