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Parliamentary Affairs Current Issue

Published: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2017 15:09:43 GMT


Politics and Parenthood: An Examination of UK Party Leadership Elections

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

As women increasingly campaign for the highest political offices, this original content analysis study examines the extent to which gender and parenthood play a role in political leadership using British political party leadership elections as a case study. Competing hypotheses from the limited literature on politics and parenthood are examined. The article finds that family mentions have varied over time and contrary to some gender literature men’s family was at times of greater interest than women’s. Evidence is found for the politicisation of motherhood and a possible ‘maternal mandate’. In parallel, fatherhood was of increasing interest and the rise of the modern man can be seen. Yet, male candidates appear to have an ‘opt-out clause’ in any politicisation of fatherhood. Further questions about politics and parenthood begged by this article open future research avenues.

The Politics of Parliamentary Restoration and Renewal: Decisions, Discretion, Democracy

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

An extensive literature on aversive constitutionalism and elite blockages outlines the manner in which embedded political elites will generally reject or dilute reform agendas that threaten their privileged position within a constitutional configuration. It is for exactly this reason that the same seam of scholarship frequently highlights the role of crises in terms of providing a ‘window of opportunity’ through which a significant or fundamental recalibration of a political system may be achieved. ‘The Palace of Westminster’ the Joint Committee on Restoration and Renewal (R&R) concluded in September 2016 ‘faces an impending crisis which we cannot possibly ignore’. Their recommendation was that the Palace be completely vacated for five to eight years so that a multibillion-pound programme of rebuilding work can be undertaken. This article offers the first research-based analysis of the ‘Scoping & Planning’ stage (2012–2016) and reveals the ‘hidden politics’ of R&R in the sense of how it threatens both the British Political Tradition and the position of the two main parties. This explains the nature of the very closed and secretive decision-making processes that have characterised this stage and why a number of formative decision-making points that have been deployed to frame and restrict the reform parameters.

The Politics of Symbols: Reflections on the French Government’s Framing of the 2015 Terrorist Attacks

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In January and again in November 2015 France was confronted with a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris. These ‘events’ shocked France (and the world) and were presented by actors and observers as turning points. Yet, as all significant events, they give rise to a plurality of interpretations. We argue that the strategy developed by the French government is a good example of how contemporary politics mobilises the symbolic, a dimension of public policy that is often neglected. Using interviews with key advisors of the President and the Prime Minister and analyses of official speeches and performances in the first weeks after the attacks, we show how the government endeavoured to impose its framing of the attacks through rhetoric, symbols and performance in order to coproduce the ‘events’ as moments in which it acted decisively to unite the Nation.

Parliament and the Representation of Indigenous Issues: The Canadian Case

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

This article explores the nature of parliamentary opposition on issues affecting Indigenous communities at Canada’s national parliament. Content analysis is performed on all oral questions asked on Indigenous issues in the 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st parliaments. The findings reveal a particular preferred frame for approaching Indigenous issues, centred on a poverty-based problem statement. In contrast, more particularistic Indigenous issues, such as historical restitution, resolution of competing claims to territory or increasing self-determination, are underrepresented in parliamentary discourse. The article explores the implications of this finding for Indigenous issue representation, and the representation of other groups in parliament.

Digital Communication and Representational Interactivity: an Analysis of in Scotland

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The potential of the Internet to address deficits in the relationship between representatives and represented has been discussed for some time. This article analyses whether ‘’, an online tool allowing people to contact their elected members of local, subnational, national and European parliaments, promotes ‘interactivity’ between elected and electors. The analysis uses data from a survey and interviews with Scottish local councillors and Members of the Scottish Parliament. The article finds that is not suitable to generate high levels of interactivity between citizens and the elected and is used for purposes not intended by its makers nor necessarily appreciated by the elected.

Majoritarianism Reinterpreted: Effective Representation and the Quality of Westminster Democracy

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Comparative analyses have frequently cast the UK as a paradigm of majoritarianism, wherein a power-hoarding executive dominates parliament and policymaking. Yet, this article contends that existing studies have paid insufficient attention to the opportunities for opposition parties to affect policymaking via the legislative arena; and applies a refined version of Powell’s index of effective representation to map the institutional conditions that structure policy payoffs. This analysis demonstrates that reforms to shift the balance between government and parliament have served to offset the declining vote basis of government, and have in turn ensured that Westminster remains effectively responsive to a majority of the electorate.

Representing the Region on the Floor: Socioeconomic Characteristics of Electoral Districts and Legislative Speechmaking

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Does it matter which electoral districts Members of Parliament (MPs) represent when participating in parliamentary debates? We suggest that the party leadership, in particular in governing parties, will try to keep MPs off the floor if they come from regions with economic problems, because such MPs are more likely to deviate from the party line. This should be especially likely when MPs are directly elected and have incentives to create a personal platform. The characteristics of the German electoral system allow for evaluating this argument. By analysing 9824 speeches in Bundestag debates focusing on economic issues and 8357 speeches held in debates on societal, foreign and education policy, we find support for our hypotheses that directly elected MPs deliver significantly fewer speeches in economic debates the worse the economic situation is in the district they represent. However, there is no clear pattern when differentiating between MPs from the government or opposition camp in terms of the number of delivered speeches in parliamentary debates.

Policy, Office and Votes: Conservative MPs and the Brexit Referendum

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

The division within the Parliamentary Conservative Party (PCP) over Britain’s membership of the EU has been one of the most significant intra-party divisions in European political history. The 2016 Brexit referendum campaign offered a unique opportunity to consider legislative motivations as almost every MP declared a preference and frontbench MPs were free to back either side. This article uses logistic regression analysis in order to consider MPs’ motivations in terms of Müller and Strøm’s policy, office and votes trichotomy. It is argued that all three motivations affected MPs decision making on the EU referendum. However, vote-seeking motivations were less influential than either policy or office-seeking.

Incitement to Hatred and Countering Terrorism: Policy Confusion in the UK and Australia

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:00:00 GMT

In the UK and Australia, the use of the term ‘hate preachers’ to describe jihadist extremist speakers has become common. In this article, I argue this term is confused, and that the contemporary cause of this confusion lies in new incitement to religious and racial hatred provisions enacted in 2006 and 2010, respectively. To date, scholarly analysis of these provisions has suggested that their primary purpose is to protect vulnerable communities. Analysing the context and justifying discourse of key policymakers during debates, I argue by contrast that their primary purpose is as a counter-terrorism measure, and that both the public debate and the provisions themselves evince and entrench an enduring epistemic confusion.