Democratic Audit

Democratic revival can come from devolved democracy

The British state is being dramatically restructured by the ongoing wave of devolution deals but the focus so far has been on devolving economic powers and the delivery of public services. The next step should be to devolve decisions about how local democracy is organised to the cities, regions and local authorities, to help reinvigorate participation and renew local […]

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    Voters do not improve their evaluations of the political system simply because the government is behaving well

Voters do not improve their evaluations of the political system simply because the government is behaving well

Established political parties across the democratised world are struggling to regain their previous levels of popularity, with scandal, voter fatigue, and an inability to tackle the issues that motivate voters proving a toxic combination for both parties and the political systems they operate within. But when parties are seen to be behaving well in government, do voters correspondingly improve […]

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    There is real cause for concern when the persuasiveness of a story depends more on public attitudes than the facts

There is real cause for concern when the persuasiveness of a story depends more on public attitudes than the facts

What does the recent public shaming and subsequent exoneration of Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind over accusations of ‘cash for access’ tell us about British democracy? Nothing good, certainly. But did the investigation by Channel Four and the Telegraph lift the lid on the secret world of British politics as intended? Phil Parvin suggests not, and argues that the […]

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    The current talks in Northern Ireland exemplify the mistrust that has attended devolution from the outset

The current talks in Northern Ireland exemplify the mistrust that has attended devolution from the outset

Following an independent report assessing paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland last week, Rick Wilford reviews the current crisis and assesses prospects for institutional reform. He writes that while there are grounds to believe that progress is being made, the scope and scale of reform may fall prey to the temper of DUP-Sinn Féin relations which could yet deteriorate over […]

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    Between cohesion and division: reconciling the faultines of Europe’s past

Between cohesion and division: reconciling the faultines of Europe’s past

Despite movement towards integration in the form of a shared currency and political institutions over the last 20 years, Europe shows signs of slipping back into populism and rancour. But do the faultlines of Europe’s past make full reconciliation impossible? Giacomo Lichtner, Mark Seymour, Maartja Abbenhuis explore this possibility, arguing that doing so is a necessity if the continent’s functional cohesion, anduniquely social-democratic […]

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    Abolishing the monarchy would remove an obstacle to genuine democracy in Britain

Abolishing the monarchy would remove an obstacle to genuine democracy in Britain

The United Kingdom is a democracy, but nonetheless has an unelected and hereditary Head of State in Queen Elizabeth II. Eventually, she will give way to her son, Prince Charles. Richard Ridyard argues that this state of affairs cannot be justified, and that the continuing presence of a monarch – particularly an influential one – is incompatible with democratic maturity.

The spectacle […]

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    Magna Carta can still challenge the orthodoxy and help resolve today’s democratic difficulties

Magna Carta can still challenge the orthodoxy and help resolve today’s democratic difficulties

What influence does Magna Carta, signed 800 years ago at Runnymede by King John, continue to have over UK democracy and governance? A lot, according to Andrew Blick, who points out that taken as a whole, it is a surprisingly enduring document which still influences our political and democratic choices to this day. 

Even after eight centuries, Magna Carta is a contemporary document. The 800th anniversary […]

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    The Government’s failure to hold a referendum on the creation of a directly elected mayor for Greater Manchester may undermine the legitimacy of this important new office

The Government’s failure to hold a referendum on the creation of a directly elected mayor for Greater Manchester may undermine the legitimacy of this important new office

George Osborne recently announced that Greater Manchester was to get a new ‘metro Mayor’ with enhanced powers, despite the decision of Manchester’s voters to reject a City Mayor in a recent referendum. Here, John Fenwick argues that there is political rationale for avoiding a plebiscite, and that the eventual office holder may be marred by a perceived lack of legitimacy, whatever the election result. 
On […]