Achieving accountable government

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

Can politicians act with impunity? The constitutional principles at stake in the prorogation case

In considering whether the recent decision to prorogue Parliament was legal, the English and Scottish courts came to different conclusions because they considered different questions, explains Pippa Catterall, not because Scottish and English public legal approaches differ. She discusses the points of constitutional law that are at stake as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the case.

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Brexit shows both the importance of the British Political Tradition and the extent to which it is under threat

Matt Hall and David Marsh discuss what recent developments in British politics, especially since the election of Boris Johnson, tell us about the British Political Tradition – a view of democracy that emphasises a limited liberal conception of representation, which focuses on the importance of free and fair elections, and a conservative conception of responsibility based on the idea that the ‘executive knows best’.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

Theresa May and Boris Johnson: secrecy as statecraft?

During UK–EU Brexit negotiations, Theresa May pursued a determined path of concealment and non-disclosure. Envisaged as a way to protect herself against political opposition, enhancing her bargaining power vis-à-vis the EU and deliver policy promises, the strategy failed and contributed to the end of her premiership. Ben Worthy and Marlen Heide detail how her case illustrates the powers of increasing transparency expectations and the risks of concealment over longer times or around contentious issues. It provides a useful lesson for her successor.

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

Threat of prorogation: what can the Commons do?

The Prime Minister has requested and received consent for the current parliament to be prorogued, and plans to introduce a new Queen’s Speech before the Brexit deadline of 31 October. David Howarth assesses the options available for those wishing to oppose this and enable the Commons to prevent a no deal Brexit.

Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger

Governing as a permanent form of campaigning: why the civil service is in mortal danger

Patrick Diamond writes that the process of governing is being transformed into a highly politicised form of campaigning, with polling and short-term politics being more important to Ministers than long-term policy. This puts the capacity of the state to steer a sensible course through the perilous post-Brexit landscape in serious doubt.

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

Who is the Leader of the Opposition?

David Howarth explains the legislation and parliamentary rules that determine who is recognised as the official Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. The political implications of these procedures are significant, given current discussions about who would form a government if the current one were to lose a vote of no confidence.

When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

When parliaments’ second chambers are reformed and the implications for democracy

In recent years there have been several attempts by Western European governments to reform second chambers, including in the UK, though the majority of proposals have failed to pass. Michelangelo Vercesi assesses the conditions when such reforms are proposed, and finds that they are often instigated during times of democratic strain when the governing party wishes to reduce the number of veto players. However, the reforms tend to fail when there is not a broad consensus for the proposals, which has implications for considering when a democracy is able to instigate reforms.

Is it too late to stop a no deal Brexit?

Is it too late to stop a no deal Brexit?

It has been suggested Boris Johnson could bypass Parliament’s opposition to a no deal Brexit by timing a general election so Parliament was not sitting over the 31 October deadline. David Howarth explains what procedures could be used to avoid this, if politicians are determined to stop no deal.

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Evidence from Germany: what citizens want from democracy

Although democracy is viewed positively across Europe, surprisingly little is known about the type of democratic processes citizens support. Drawing on new research in Germany, Saskia Goldberg, Dominik Wyss and André Bächtiger illustrate that disenchanted citizens want stronger involvement in political decision-making, irrespective of the concrete participation format.

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Improving access to information and restoring the public’s faith in democracy through deliberative institutions

Advocates for public deliberation claim that increased citizen involvement in political decision-making can improve democratic governance. Studies have shown that deliberation can be beneficial for participants, but less is known about its impact on the wider public. Looking at the case of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews in Oregon, Katherine R. Knobloch shows that knowing about or using the information provided by deliberative institutions can improve the public’s faith in self-government.