Informing and engaging citizens

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

What do British newspaper readers think about Brexit?

The various Brexit allegiances of Britain’s newspapers are clear. But what do their readers think? Heinz Brandenburg analyses data from the British Election Study Internet Panel to find out how intransigent – or open to compromise – their readers are, and how readerships have shifted since Brexit.

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest  wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the Westminster model of politics are not new: can the system survive the latest wave of anti-politics?

Criticisms of the highly centralised, elitist, top-down Westminster model are by no means new. Consecutive Prime Ministers – from Blair to May – vowed to take on vested powers and interests, challenge the status quo, and change the way politics is conducted. Yet, as Patrick Diamond, David Richards, and Alan Wager show, they have all failed to deliver their promises. While another wave of anti-politics is looming, they ask how the established parties will accommodate it.

The Brex Factor: how a citizens’ assembly on Brexit could learn from reality TV

The Brex Factor: how a citizens’ assembly on Brexit could learn from reality TV

Some politicians and political scientists have suggested that a citizens’ assembly would be the best way to build public consent for any Brexit solution. For this to work, argues Conor Farrington, any initiative would need to innovate to engage the public, and in this it could learn from mass television entertainment.

Representing interest groups: umbrella organisations enjoy preferential access to the legislative arena but not to the media

Representing interest groups: umbrella organisations enjoy preferential access to the legislative arena but not to the media

Lobbying for access to parliamentary and media debates potentially allows organisations to represent the interests of their members and exert political influence. Wiebke Marie Junk looks at which types of interest groups are favoured when it comes to lobbying access in the United Kingdom and Germany. She finds that access to the legislature is higher for ‘umbrella’ organisations that unite many member groups, while representing a higher number of individual people does not seem to matter.

The flawed assumption of the centrist paradox and support for democracy

The flawed assumption of the centrist paradox and support for democracy

The so called ‘centrist paradox’ refers to the idea, proposed by David Adler, that an observed decline in support for democracy across the world has occurred primarily among centrist voters, rather than those who lie at the extremes of the policy spectrum. Elli Palaiologou argues that this theory is based on a flawed assumption that all individuals located between the left and right can be regarded as ‘centrist’. In reality, this ‘centrist’ group contains a large number of individuals who are simply less willing to take strong political positions, including on the value of democracy.

Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Selfies, policies or votes? How politicians can campaign effectively on Instagram

Twitter and Facebook have become crucial arenas for political competition, but what about Instagram? In new research, Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte assesses how parties in Spain have used the image-based social media platform and finds that political newcomers like Podemos and Ciudadanos are most effective at engaging voters, particularly when they focus on political leaders and mobilising supporters, but that policy communication is less effective.

Dissatisfaction with democracy in Europe is primarily a function of how well citizens perceive their political system to perform, and not of rising expectations

Dissatisfaction with democracy in Europe is primarily a function of how well citizens perceive their political system to perform, and not of rising expectations

Is democratic dissatisfaction caused by critical citizens’ high expectations? By measuring the gap between expectations and evaluations, Lea Heyne finds that dissatisfaction is not, in fact, caused by voters having increased demands of what a democratic system should be like, but that the gap between expectations and evaluations matters, and for liberal democratic values, citizens’ assessments of democratic performance is most significant.

How not to recruit postal voters in the UK

How not to recruit postal voters in the UK

Joshua Townsley and Stuart Turnbull-Dugarte tested the ability of parties to recruit postal voters in a field experiment carried out during the 2018 local elections in London. The result? Sending personal letters persuading voters to become postal voters is not an effective recruitment technique.

Can voters influence social policy?

Can voters influence social policy?

One of the fundamental promises of electoral democracy is that voters influence governments’ policies. However, whether voters actually have such an influence remains an open question, with recent public debate and academic research often answering ‘no’. In a large-scale study of citizens’ preferences, Marc Hooghe, Ruth Dassonneville and Jennifer Oser investigate the extent to which there is a relationship between the political position of citizens and social policy in a broad range of countries over time. They find that, while there is no direct correlation between citizens’ preferences and their country’s social policy, high electoral turnout and the composition of the governing cabinet do have an effect.