continuity and change
Not only is it the case that the vast majority of citizens are at best
marginally engaged in civic or political activism, it is also far from clear
how even a broader base of participation beyond elections and political
parties could help address the decline of representative democracy.
Wilks-Heeg, Blick and Crone, 2012
The changing patterns of politicalparticipation and support
Politicalparticipation is part of a dynamic process of exchange between
the citizen and the state. In Britain and Australia, as in
The democratic impulse needs to be strengthened by finding new ways to
enable citizens to share in decision-making that affects them. For too long
a false antithesis has been presented between ‘representative’ and ‘direct’
democracy. The truth is that in a mature society representatives will make
better decisions if they take full account of popular opinion and encourage
public debate on the big decisions affecting people’s lives.
Tony Blair, 1998
The trouble with Socialism is that it takes too many evenings.
Civic engagement and politicalparticipation: debates
There is a widespread view that democracy at the local level in Britain is in
crisis with levels of politicalparticipation at an all-time low. Indeed, there is
an increasing ‘anti-politics’ narrative that posits a public alienated from the
political class. The public uproar in 2009 over the ‘excessive’ allowances
claimed by some members of parliament (MPs) has fed into this. However,
the central argument of this chapter, and indeed of the book itself, is that a
deeper and more
There has been some improvement in female politicalparticipation in Northern Ireland since the GFA, with the number of
women representatives increasing from election to election; but the
pace of change is slow and much more remains to be achieved before the body
politic can be described as fair and representative. Of course,
there are many countries in which women – especially in their
The chapter outlines the different stages involved in the process by which
the US elects its presidents. It considers the primaries and caucuses as
parties choose their nominees and assesses the claim that party elites have
generally played a decisive role in determining the eventual victor. The
chapter then surveys the character of the general election campaign that
follows and the ways in which it is shaped by the Electoral College and
leads to campaigns that focus on particular swing states. Alongside
presidential elections, it also outlines Congressional election processes
and stresses, in particular, the importance of incumbency in shaping
election outcomes. The chapter concludes by assessing the variables shaping
There has been considerable debate around claims that the established
political parties are in decline. Certainly, they no longer undertake some
of the core functions they were traditionally associated with. Nonetheless,
the Republicans and Democrats are still largely unchallenged and there are
almost insuperable barriers facing minor parties. Furthermore, the major
parties continue to be very important sources of political identity and they
co-ordinate processes of government between the executive and legislative
branches. The chapter also assesses organised interests and considers the
factors (such as the resources they command) that give particular interests
extensive influence within the political system.
This book attempts to understand how two sister centre-left parties, the British Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party (ALP), have sought to adapt to the modern era and effect changes. It identifies and examines a range of drivers for Labour's desire to experiment and find new forms of citizen engagement. Linked to the influence of the New Social Democracy (NSD) is the lingering legacy of the new public management (NPM) reforms implemented in the public sectors in both countries. For Labour, democratic renewal is an attempt to secure wider legitimacy in neoliberal settings; similarly, the NSD is also linked to the debates about the perceived shift from government to governance. The NSD has attempted to respond to these debates and in Britain a concerted effort has been made to reformulate the role of the state and, by extension, civil society. The book examines how far the NSD has influenced Labour governments in Britain and Australia. It establishes Labour's interest in democratic renewal, specifically, the role of political participation and civic engagement in the wider context of democratic theory. Given that the NSD calls for an 'active citizenry', this is important. A central motif of democratic theory is an ambivalence about the role of political participation in a modern liberal democratic polity. The book explores how far New Social Democratic governments in Britain and Australia have been successful in seeking to link new forms of public dialogue to existing democratic decision-making processes in the modern western world.
This book examines how the conflict affects people's daily behaviour in reinforcing sectarian or ghettoised notions and norms. It also examines whether and to what extent everyday life became normalised in the decade after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA). Cross-border commerce has been the stuff of everyday life ever since the partition of Ireland back in 1921. The book outlines how sectarianism and segregation are sustained and extended through the routine and mundane decisions that people make in their everyday lives. It explores the role of integrated education in breaking down residual sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The book examines the potential of the non-statutory Shared Education Programme (SEP) for fostering greater and more meaningful contact between pupils across the ethno-religious divide. It then focuses on women's involvement or women's marginalisation in society and politics. In considering women's political participation post-devolution, mention should be made of activities in the women's sector which created momentum for women's participation prior to the GFA. The book deals with the roles of those outside formal politics who engage in peace-making and everyday politics. It explores the fate of the Northern Irish Civic Forum and the role of section 75 of the 1998 Northern Ireland Act in creating more inclusive policy-making. Finally, the book explains how cross-border trade, shopping and economic development more generally, also employment and access to health services, affect how people navigate ethno-national differences; and how people cope with and seek to move beyond working-class isolation and social segregation.
There is a widespread view that local democracy in Britain is in deep trouble and that people face a crisis of civic engagement and political participation. This book counterweighs the many negative accounts that seek to dominate the political discourse with talks on political apathy and selfish individualism. It commences with an examination of theoretical debates as to the meaning of local democracy and related concepts. The book looks at the policy agenda around local democracy in the context of the developing nature of central/local relations since 1979. It considers the available evidence on level of political participation and civic engagement by looking at eight themes. These include the state of formal politics, forms of civic engagement, community identity and the emerging world of the internet/world wide web. The book also looks at nine key aspects of the reform of local democracy over the last fifteen years, including local democracy and the New Labour reform agenda; the constitutional position of local government; and double devolution. It focuses on the so-called 'crisis of formal democracy' at the local level. The book ascertains the recent developments beyond the realm of elections, political parties and formal political institutions. It then concentrates on local services and policy attempts to widen public participation in the shaping and delivery of such services. Finally, the book discusses the concept of sustainability and regeneration strategies to build sustainable communities, both physical and social.
Immigration is relatively new in Spain, and hence government policies are struggling to manage the diversity it entails. This book examines the social conditions and political questions surrounding Spanish diversity, and gives a comprehensive view on how Spain is orienting its diversity management following a practical approach. It also examines specific immigrant nationalities, current institutional practices and normative challenges on how Spain is managing diversity. The mosque debate and the effects of the Danish Cartoon Affair on the traditional moros and cristianos festivals are explored. The book addresses the context of educational challenges related to immigration, and the policy approaches to the management of immigration-related diversity in education. It discusses policies and practices to combat discrimination in the labour market, with special reference to the transposition and implementation of the EU anti-discrimination directives. The book looks at political participation and representation of immigrants by describing the public debate on voting rights, the legal framework and the various debates about the possibilities for granting immigrants voting rights. This is done through an analysis of the Foro para la Integracion de los Inmigrantes (FII), and the main characteristics of the management of immigrant associations by the City Councils of Madrid and Barcelona. The book concludes that Spain is a laboratory for diversities, with a 'practical philosophy' of diversity management within a complex identitarian, historical and structural context that limits policy innovation and institutional change.