Category Democracy

Trump, Brexit and the Imp of the Perverse

I grew up in a period when politics was boring: the era of the ‘great moderation’ and the ‘end of history’. A time when all the politicians looked and sounded the same, and had a similar acceptance of capitalism, globalisation and the welfare state. With Donald Trump settling into the White House and the UK […]

Another way 2016 revealed democracy’s fallibility

2016, I think it’s fair to say, has not been a good year for confidence in democracy. Brexit, Trump and the various ructions to come have reawakened some of the oldest arguments in political theory: that democracy doesn’t work. David Van Reybrouck ruminates on the poor quality of debate in democracy. Arguments abound that the […]

What should voters look for in their politicians?

Amidst the political chaos of the past few months, some have taken the opportunity to reflect on what it all means for democracy. In particular, the question of whether individual Members of Parliament are bound to permit Britain’s exit from the European Union because their voters supported it has led to a number of reflections […]

Can cosmopolitans vote for Scottish independence?

A cosmopolitan nationalist is a contradiction in terms. Yet I want to suggest that in some cases consistent cosmopolitans may be justified in supporting nationalist causes – in particular, voting ‘yes’ in independence referenda like the ones anticipated in Scotland and Catalonia in 2014. Cosmopolitanism is the moral or political theory that insists that nationality […]

Are opinion polls bad for democracy?

Ahead of today’s general election, the German broadcaster ZDF has broken with convention and published an opinion poll in the final few days before the vote. Previously, it had been agreed that surveys would not be released fewer than ten days before polling day for fear of influencing voters. This is a worrying development because […]

Improving Germany’s model democracy

Germany has one of the best electoral systems in the world. If I were writing a constitution, I think only New Zealand could serve as a better model. I’ve briefly discussed the advantages of mixed member proportional representation (MMPR) before, but here are some of the main benefits:

Should votes be for sale?

Ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. Presidential election, Stephen Levitt, citing the work of Glen Weyl, has made a provocative suggestion for improving the electoral process – people should be permitted to vote multiple times, paying increasingly higher fees for each additional vote. I’m attracted to this idea because it addresses one of the major drawbacks of […]