Informing and engaging citizens

Requiring voter ID in British elections suggests the government is adopting US ‘voter suppression’ tactics

Requiring voter ID in British elections suggests the government is adopting US ‘voter suppression’ tactics

This week’s Queen’s Speech revived proposals to introduce photographic ID requirements for voting in British elections. The Democratic Audit team assess the available evidence on the likely consequence of such a measure, and consider whether the legislation tackles the right priorities for improving our elections on which there is consensus, or suggests moves to enhance Tory election chances via excluding voters presumed unfavourable to them.

Have we all underestimated the severity of socioeconomic differences in electoral participation?

Have we all underestimated the severity of socioeconomic differences in electoral participation?

Opinion polls routinely overestimate voter turnout, since participants misreport their own voting record, and because politically engaged voters are also more likely to respond to surveys. Using unique linked survey and register-based data from Finland that allows them to measure the effects of these biases, Hannu Lahtinen, Pekka Martikainen, Mikko Mattila, Hanna Wass, and Lauri Rapeli demonstrate that these two factors also lead to an underestimation of socioeconomic differences in turnout. The results imply that social inequality in political participation is a greater social challenge than previously thought.

When select committees speak, do newspapers listen?

When select committees speak, do newspapers listen?

It is frequently claimed that the House of Commons’ select committees have grown in prominence since key reforms were implemented in 2010. Brian J. Gaines, Mark Goodwin, Stephen Holden Bates and Gisela Sin test this claim specifically in relation to press coverage. They find a pattern of increased newspaper attention after the reforms, but caution that these results show no consistent sustained increase, and also vary considerably depending on committee.

Press freedom is necessary to advance environmental protections across the globe

Press freedom is necessary to advance environmental protections across the globe

Journalists face increasing threats and obstacles to investigating environmental conditions internationally. In new research, Jeff Ollerton, Matt Walsh and Ted Sullivan find that press freedom goes hand in hand with a higher level of environmental protection. Therefore, for countries to address the climate crisis, they need an open, well-resourced media.

Our student generation has been disenfranchised

Our student generation has been disenfranchised

The latest generation of university undergraduates has been excluded from participating in an issue that will shape their future, leaving the EU. Chris Game details how this came about, and how approaches to youth participation now divide the parties and the nations of the UK.

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

It’s time to change election campaign law to stop politicians lying

How do you ensure that political campaigns don’t rely on lies and misinformation? James Organ proposes changing election campaign law to prohibit knowingly false political statements by campaigners, and suggests that involving voters, via a citizens’ assembly, could be one way to ensure the quality of political information improves in any referendum.

Youth political engagement in the EU: The age of a democracy accounts for variations in levels of youth participation

Youth political engagement in the EU: The age of a democracy accounts for variations in levels of youth participation

While socio-demographic characteristics (at individual level) matter for levels of political participation, country-level characteristics have an effect as well. Magdelina Kitanova shows that the democratic maturity of a country influences patterns of political participation among young people in the EU. Youth political engagement varies significantly, and young individuals living in established democracies are more likely to be politically active.

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.

Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Is democracy going digital? Why the Twitter debate on Catalonia’s independence matters

Looking at the case of the Catalonia independence debate, Joan Balcells and Albert Padró-Solanet find that the popular perception of social media as creating polarised echo-chambers of extreme political opinions is far from the full picture. They find evidence that Twitter can foster engaged, substantive conversations across partisan lines. This picture demonstrates how social media has the capacity to genuinely improve democratic discussions, and open up arenas of public debate.

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.