A report provided findings from the evaluation of the first wave of activity to maximize electoral registration, which was supported by the government in the lead up to the launch of individual electoral registration in England, Wales, and Scotland. It examined the impact, process, and cost-effectiveness of interventions by funded local authorities, presented examples of good practice and lessons learnt, and outlined suggestions for developing future strategies to improve registration rates, particularly among under-represented groups.
Source: Charlotte Snelling, Maximising Electoral Registration: An evaluation of local activities – Full report, Cabinet Office
A paper examined gender equality within European institutions and the European Parliament. It said that the rise in female participation had been slow but substantial over the previous two decades, but representation in the most influential positions remained low. The report said that major improvements were unlikely unless stricter measures were enacted, and it called on the European Union to take action and to consider the need to use more quota-based measures.
Source: Vilde Renman and Caroline Conroy, Advances in EU Gender Equality: Missing the mark?, European Policy Institutes Network
A private member's Bill was published that was designed to extend the franchise for parliamentary and local elections, and for referendums, to all citizens over the age of 16 years.
Source: Voting Age (Comprehensive Reduction) Bill, Lord Tyler, TSO
A report examined the political participation of people with disabilities in the European Union member states, based on a range of indicators. It said that there were legal and administrative barriers, inaccessible processes and information, and a lack of awareness about political rights, and that these could contribute to the denial of opportunity to participate fully. The report said that there was insufficient reliable and comparable data about people's experiences of participating in EU elections, and made a range of recommendations.
Source: The Right to Political Participation for Persons with Disabilities: Human rights indicators, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
A report by a committee of peers said that a majority of the general public expected that broadcast general election debates should take place before the 2015 United Kingdom general election. The report considered the range of codes, statements, and guidelines which constituted the legal and regulatory framework for the debates, and identified potential reforms. The report said that the committee respected the broadcasters' independence, but recommended that they should consider the balance of gender and ethnic diversity among the moderators, and that they should ensure that public interest was encouraged.
Source: Broadcast General Election Debates, 2nd Report (Session 201314), HL 171, House of Lords Communications Select Committee, TSO
A paper examined the use of quotas to increase the political representation of women. It put forward a rationale behind the use of quotas, and gave details of a survey of quota types, summarised where they were in use, and considered their effectiveness.
Source: Michael Potter, The Use of Quotas to Increase the Political Representation of Women, Paper 57/14, Northern Ireland Assembly
A report provided a collection of articles and policy proposals on approaches to encouraging political participation by young people in the United Kingdom.
Source: Andrew Mycock and Jonathan Tonge (eds), Beyond the Youth Citizenship Commission: Young people and politics, Political Studies Association
A report said that people with disabilities across Europe were keen to participate in political life but legal, administrative, and accessibility barriers prevented some people from participating. The report said that the impact varied across the range of impairment types, and recommended actions to remove barriers and to improve the available data on participation levels.
Source: The Right to Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities, European Agency for Fundamental Rights
The Scottish Government began consultation on proposals to make changes that aimed to strengthen and improve electoral processes and encourage wider democratic engagement. The consultation would close on 11 July 2014.
Source: Scotland's Electoral Future: Delivering improvements in participation and administration, Scottish Government
A paper examined a European parliament initiative to improve voter turnout, and improve democratic accountability, by calling for the main political groups to put forward candidates for the next President of the European Commission and to make their 2014 political campaigns more visible to the European voters. The paper concluded that it was not clear whether the initiative would succeed, and that it would be unlikely to prevent eurosceptic and radical parties from making substantial gains. It also questioned the potential impact on democratic accountability.
Source: Sonia Piedrafita and Vilde Renman, The 'Personalisation' of the European Elections: A half-hearted attempt to increase turnout and democratic legitimacy?, European Policy Institute Network
A report provided the interim findings from the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, which was established to 'identify a route map to deliver the full benefits of a shift in power towards local democracy for people in Scotland'. It said that local democracy was ailing because its institutional base was perceived to be large scale, remote, depowered, and lacking capacity to respond flexibly to communities. The report outlined a range of recommendations regarding community empowerment and fiscal decentralization. The work of the commission would continue, to establish how the recommendations could be put into practice, and would be due to report in late summer 2014.
Source: Interim Report, Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy in Scotland
The government began consultation on proposals to amend the existing legislation governing the setting up of new town and parish councils. It said that the proposed changes to the legislation would make it easier for local communities to initiate the process (known as a community governance review) for setting up a new council. The consultation would close on 22 May 2014.
Source: Consultation on a Proposal to Use a Legislative Reform Order for Making it Easier to Set Up a Town and Parish Council, Department for Communities and Local Government
Links: Consultation document
A think-tank report examined influences on the political views of young people, drawing on data from a project on the Scottish referendum on independence. It said that young people were not less interested in politics than adults, that they were engaging with the referendum decision, and, while there was a likelihood that parents' views influenced their children, there was no evidence to suggest that children would copy their parents' voting.
Source: Jan Eichhorn, Anne Heyer, and Christine Huebner, Who Influences the Formation of Political Attitudes and Decisions in Young People? Evidence from the referendum on Scottish independence, d | part
An article examined the findings of a systematic review that examined the effect of civic education on young people's levels of political engagement. It said there was little evidence that civic education affected voting or voter registration, and that it thus appeared to have 'failed' in its specified aim. The article said that the failure was attributable to the adoption of a mechanistic approach to policy that ignored sociological knowledge regarding structural barriers to participation and the effects of new forms of participation.
Source: Nathan Manning and Kathy Edwards, 'Why has civic education failed to increase young people's political participation?', Sociological Research Online, Volume 19 Issue 1
A report examined young people's citizenship in the United Kingdom. It challenged popular stereotypes of young people, finding that they were characterized by tolerance, compassion, and motivation to tackle social issues, with a more responsible attitude to drink and drugs than in the past, and a greater likelihood to volunteer. It described teenagers as 'digital natives', accustomed to speed and responsiveness, with a desire for politics to engage them at the same pace. It called for the media to adopt a more positive narrative around 'Generation Citizen', for the voting age to be lowered to 16, and for a sustained effort to encourage the young vote.
Source: Jonathan Birdwell and Mona Bani, Introducing Generation Citizen, Demos
A paper examined the implications of governance, trust and political participation for measures of national well-being.
Source: Chris Randall, Measuring National Well-being: Governance, 2014, Office for National Statistics
The elections watchdog said that electoral fraud was not widespread in the United Kingdom but there was significant concern among the public that it was taking place. It said that the system was well equipped to spot fraud, but recommended that there was a need for some changes to the postal voting system, that the code of conduct for campaigners should be amended, and that voters should be required to show identification at polling stations. The Electoral Commission would now develop detailed proposals for how the identification scheme should work.
Source: Electoral Fraud in the UK: Final report and recommendations, Electoral Commission
A new book examined the performance of democracy and the physical public space in which it took place, arguing that some of the most valuable spaces were being lost within developed democracies, and the nature of public involvement was moving away from organized, active citizens. It suggested an alternative vision for democratic public space, and evaluated 11 cities against that vision.
Source: John Parkinson, Democracy and Public Space: The physical sites of democratic performance, Oxford University Press
An article examined survey data on young people's attitudes to political participation. Young people did profess a commitment to the political process, although they considered that there were relatively few opportunities available for them to intervene effectively in formal political life. Their engagement with formal politics was complex and nuanced. Social class and educational history both appeared to have a crucial bearing on political engagement, and views also differed according to ethnicity and – to a lesser extent – gender.
Source: Matt Henn and Nick Foard, 'Social differentiation in young people's political participation: the impact of social and educational factors on youth political engagement in Britain', Journal of Youth Studies, Volume 17 Issue 3
An article examined political and civic engagement by young men on the margins of the labour market.
Source: Linda McDowell, Esther Rootham, and Abby Hardgrove, 'Politics, anti-politics, quiescence and radical unpolitics: young men's political participation in an "ordinary" English town', Journal of Youth Studies, Volume 17 Number 1
An article said that there were important variations in patterns of democratic engagement across different minority-ethnic groups and across generations. Overall, minority-ethnic engagement was at a similar level to that of whites, and moved by the same general factors: but minority democratic engagement was also strongly affected by a set of distinctive minority-ethnic perceptions and experiences, associated particularly with discrimination and patterns of minority and majority cultural engagement. Second-generation minorities who grew up in Britain were less, rather than more, likely to be engaged.
Source: David Sanders, Stephen Fisher, Anthony Heath, and Maria Sobolewska, 'The democratic engagement of Britain's ethnic minorities', Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 37 Number 1
An article examined whether immigrant integration was facilitated by religious involvement. It was found that successive generations of minority-ethnic respondents appeared to be secularizing; that successive generations were more civically involved than the arriving generation, although less trusting; and that immigrant religiosity promoted civic integration.
Source: Siobhan McAndrew and David Voas, 'Immigrant generation, religiosity and civic engagement in Britain', Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 37 Number 1
A new book examined the framing and adaptation of participatory budgeting in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. It explored participatory budgeting's national characteristics and potential for realizing a more democratic society.
Source: Anja Rocke, Framing Citizen Participation: Participatory budgeting in France, Germany and the United Kingdom , Palgrave Macmillan
Notes: Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which people decide how to allocate a public budget.