Duncan McDonnell

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    Should mainstream parties have a blacklist of potential coalition partners?

Should mainstream parties have a blacklist of potential coalition partners?

One of the stories of 2014 was the success of populist and anti-establishment parties in the European Parliament elections in May. Looking ahead to the big elections of next year, Duncan McDonnell writes that mainstream parties now face a dilemma over how they deal with radical parties in national parliaments.

“Politicians will do anything to get into power. They’ll promise […]

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    Scotland saw a huge turnout, but we should be sceptical of direct democracy’s ability to engage voters at the level of local politics

Scotland saw a huge turnout, but we should be sceptical of direct democracy’s ability to engage voters at the level of local politics

Although the Scottish independence campaign provoked intense disagreement from both sides, one aspect which was widely celebrated by all campaigners was the high turnout level of 84.6 per cent. Duncan McDonnell writes that we should nevertheless be careful about assuming that direct democracy will always result in this level of engagement from voters. Outlining the results of a study […]

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    The minimal rise in turnout in the EP elections shows that voter apathy is still the greatest threat to European democracy

The minimal rise in turnout in the EP elections shows that voter apathy is still the greatest threat to European democracy

One of the key criticisms of European Parliament elections is that they suffer from low turnout and therefore lack the capacity to genuinely confer democratic legitimacy on the EU’s legislative process. Duncan McDonnell writes that while a concerted effort was made to present the 2014 European elections as ‘different’ in the run up to the vote, the minimal rise […]

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    Lega Nord’s Euroscepticism represents political opportunism rather than a deeply-held ideological stance similar to UKIP

Lega Nord’s Euroscepticism represents political opportunism rather than a deeply-held ideological stance similar to UKIP

Alongside parties such as UKIP in the UK and the Front National in France, Italy’s Lega Nord have also taken a notably Eurosceptic stance prior to this month’s European Parliament elections. Duncan McDonnell writes that while the party has joined the Eurosceptic alliance led by the Front National and Geert Wilder’s Party for Freedom, Lega Nord’s policies on Europe […]

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    The rise of Euroscepticism across Europe has masked general apathy about the European elections among voters

The rise of Euroscepticism across Europe has masked general apathy about the European elections among voters

Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom have announced that they intend to form a ‘Eurosceptic alliance’ in the European Parliament after the 2014 European elections. Duncan McDonnell writes that while the overall picture in the European elections will see Eurosceptic parties make gains in their overall vote share, they will have a fairly limited […]

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If Matteo Renzi is successful in implementing reforms, few Italian citizens will care how he got into office

In the space of just a few months, Matteo Renzi has been voted leader of the Democratic Party (PD), and is now set to take the place of his former PD colleague Enrico Letta as Italy’s Prime Minister. Duncan McDonnell writes that despite anticipated concerns about Renzi getting the top job ‘through the back door’, his rise remains a cause […]

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Modern Europe looks little like the 1930s, but we should take note of growing criticism over the way European democracy works

A number of commentators have drawn a parallel between the rise of radical right parties in several European countries and developments in Europe during the 1930s. Duncan McDonnell argues that media coverage of this nature is not in line with the evidence from European democracies. He writes that our focus should instead be placed on the rise of critical voices […]

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Following the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi’s ministers, Italy is once again heading for new elections

On Saturday, ministers from Silvio Berlusconi’s PDL party opted to resign from the Italian government. Duncan McDonnell writes that although the stated reason for the resignations is opposition to a proposed rise in VAT, the real motivation is that a Senate committee is expected to strip Silvio Berlusconi of his seat in the Italian parliament. Unless an unlikely deal can […]

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This is the end of Berlusconi, right? Probably, yes

Last week, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had a one year jail sentence confirmed by the Court of Cassation in Rome. As Duncan McDonnell notes, the ruling is likely to have a major impact not just on Berlusconi’s political career, but also on his party and the current Italian government. While this may well mark the end of his […]

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The rise of governments led by technocrats in Europe illustrates the failure of mainstream political parties.

The Eurozone crisis has led to a perceived rise in ‘technocratic’ governments, led by unelected bureaucrats. Duncan McDonnell argues that caretaker governments are often used as a synonym for technocratic ones by the media, but that not all caretaker governments are led by technocrats, and nor are all technocrat-led governments caretakers. He writes that when governments are composed of technocrats, this […]

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On Italy’s streets, Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement still twinkles

Local elections in Italy this week saw reduced results for Beppe Grillo’s Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) party, when compared to its stunning national election performance in February. In the aftermath, the Italian media has been quick to write off the party’s fortunes. Duncan McDonnell writes that these sentiments are fuelled by an unhelpful comparison of local and national elections, and the media’s […]

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The real innovation in Beppe Grillo’s campaigning is not his use of social media, but his success in using the Internet to bring together activists at the grassroots level.

The success of Beppe Grillo’s Five-Star Movement in February’s Italian elections has focused attention on his use of the Internet as a campaigning tool. Duncan McDonnell argues that many of the techniques he has adopted, such as using social media in political communications, are not as revolutionary as they are often portrayed. The real innovation has been his and the […]

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Italy has passed a no-confidence verdict in the centre-left

The rise of Beppe Grillo and the political resilience of Silvio Berlusconi were two of the main stories to emerge from last week’s Italian election. As Duncan McDonnell and Giuliano Bobba argue, however, the Grillo and Berlusconi headlines should not disguise the stark position of the Italian centre-left. The Partito Democratico has now lost over three million voters in five […]

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The Italian centre-left is stalling in the campaign, but (probably) not in the election

This week sees elections in Italy. The centre-left coalition have seen their comfortable polling lead reduced but are predicted to be successful on election day. Giuliano Bobba and Duncan McDonnell argue that despite Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Monti’s rhetoric about promoting young people and women, the centre-left PD and SEL perform better on both counts, and that this bodes well for the future of […]

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Beppe Grillo’s unexpected rise makes him the Italian (non)politician of the year

While the end of year headlines are being dominated by Silvio Berlusconi and Mario Monti, Giuliano Bobba and Duncan McDonnell argue that the most interesting Italian politics story in 2012 was Beppe Grillo and his Movimento 5 Stelle. The movement’s particular blend of anti-establishment politics, and a communication strategy that focuses on both the internet and grassroots campaigning, mean that […]

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Italy’s technocratic government is providing ample opportunity for challenges from parties outside of the mainstream.

Last year, Italy’s populist government under Silvio Berlusconi was replaced by a technocratic one with no electoral mandate under new Prime Minister Mario Monti. Duncan McDonnell argues that opposition to Italy’s technocratic government means that anti-establishment parties like the Lega Nord and Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement will continue to expose the organisational and ideological frailties of mainstream parties. If you were […]

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None of Italy’s 50 largest cities has a female mayor. Even with its party system in turmoil, Italy remains a country for old men.

The local elections held in Italy earlier this month were the first key test for the country’s political parties following the installation of Mario Monti’s technocratic government. Duncan McDonnell explores the election results, finding that Silvio Berlusconi’s Popolo della Libertà party has performed poorly and that women in Italian politics are still shockingly under-represented.    Here’s a shocking statistic: after the […]

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With Mario Monti’s technocratic government, it is not just the idea of party government which is being damaged in Italy, but the very idea of the political party’s role as an indispensable agent of democracy.

Silvio Berlusconi was Italy’s longest-serving prime minister since Benito Mussolini, and his resignation was a turning point in modern Italian history. Duncan McDonnell argues that his successor Mario Monti’s government marks an era of ‘democracy without choices’. He believes that Monti’s technocratic government damages the very idea of the political party’s role as an indispensable agent of democracy.   Party government […]

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