A Mockery of Democracy?

A Mockery of Democracy?

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

Are the UK's looming European elections making a mockery of democracy, or is this how democracy is meant to work? Would cancelling them at the last minute make the situation worse? We talk about trust in politics, the threat to the two main parties, and the knock-on effects for the rest of Europe. Plus we discuss what can meaningfully happen before the end of October, and whether the events of the last few weeks have done permanent damage to the Tory brand. With Helen Thompson, Catherine Barnard and Chris Bickerton.

Talking Points:

Local elections and the European parliamentary elections are the closest that UK voters have been to getting a say on what’s going on—even if they may not actually have any consequences.

Are they good or bad for democracy?People’s faith in democracy overall is declining.

Because of Brexit, and the upcoming elections, the fracturing in British party politics is greater than ever before—what does this mean for British politics?

We overestimate how often we’ve had a two-party system. It’s actually rare (1832-1870 and 1945-1970)You need a stable UK to have two party dynamics.Brexit has shaken up the parties in fundamental ways.Whether or not Britain leaves the EU, the next Conservative leader will likely be a leaver.

With this Parliament, if it does come down to no deal or revoke article 50, what will it do?

This partially depends on the EU’s position.There is still the problem of sequencing when it comes to leaving the EU.The UK has become a geopolitical issue for the EU in a way that it wasn’t before. This is why Merkel and Macron are fighting.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Sir John Holmes’ statement on uncertainty around European electionsThe Pew polling on people’s faith in democracy

Further Learning:

On the 2019 European elections

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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