Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Today, The Democratic Society (Demsoc) and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) published a report titled Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Funded by the Local Government Association (LGA), this report is the result of months of research conducted by talking to residents, councillors, council officers and partners about the good and bad aspects of the current system, and how it can be improved. We have looked at the way that the Council makes decisions and who is involved in making those decisions.…Read more
Have people in Northern Ireland given up on democracy?

Have people in Northern Ireland given up on democracy?

What do people in Northern Ireland think of democracy? Have they become downheartened, disappointed, disillusioned? If the crowds that came for Democracy Day in Belfast last month are anything to go by, it’s clear there’s a lot of enthusiasm and energy for democracy – and plenty of ideas for how to fix it!   Coincidentally meeting as Stormont talks were coming to a close leaving Northern Ireland in somewhat of a political deadlock, it was perhaps a fitting time to be talking about the health of democracy in Northern Ireland!   We spent the day exploring…Read more

Inequality and democracy: what will the impact of digital be?

The Democratic Society has been asked to carry out a piece of research into inequality and democracy, and the impact of digital technologies upon these in the EU and beyond. As an output of this piece of work, we will be producing a report, providing a set of recommendations to the EU about further action and thinking. There are four broad themes we are exploring: Jobs, inequality and social protection - covering topics such robotization and automation of jobs, the impacts of an increased focus on the gig economy and employment laws and rules…Read more
How do we take back control?

How do we take back control?

  Digital democracy & democratic deficit in the EU The Democratic Society are working on a project to find out how people would like to communicate ideas directly to the institutions of the European Union. It's about citizens feeding in to policy-making and having a say more than just once every five years in the European elections. The UK's role in this is significant as Brexit highlighted a common perception that there is a lack of democracy, that people in Britain have ‘lost control’ over EU policy making. we will be hosting an online…Read more
Religion, Migration, Power and Money

Religion, Migration, Power and Money

The tale of two Athens hotels, the 5-star and the refugee camp. Religion, Migration, Power and Money was the title of last month's Athens Democracy Forum. The conference was sponsored by some Big Names, it attracted important people to come and speak, including the President of Greece, op-ed columnists at the New York Times, the Mayor of Athens, a top British QC and the European Commissioner for migration, among others. And they all had one thing in common: they were all grey-haired white men[1]. At this beautifully organised three-day conference, it was the white…Read more
DemsocMCR’s Launch Event!

DemsocMCR’s Launch Event!

As some of you may know, Demsoc have recently opened a new hub in Manchester, with Beth, Mat and Michelle looking for interesting opportunities to work in the north west to improve democracy, especially around devolution, and local and open government. As part of this new office, we will be launching a brand new series of Demsoc events! Once a month, we will be meeting on a Thursday evening, in a relaxed location such as a pub or café, to explore interesting questions related to democracy and politics, as well as what can…Read more
Is Democracy Fit for Purpose?

Is Democracy Fit for Purpose?

By Millicent Scott In western Europe democracy emerged during the 19th and 20th centuries as the process of choice for selecting national governors. It came to replace the birth-right power of monarchy and aristocracy to rule, or in some cases to legitimise the power of the monarch. In the UK for example, the democratically elected House of Commons together with the aristocracy and appointed House of Lords and HRH the Queen form Her Majesty's Government. In eastern Europe, after the fall of communism, democracy has emerged as the system of governance for nearly a…Read more

How can open data help democracy?

It’s always good to read about open data and democracy in a mainstream newspaper , but often the focus of the pieces are too narrow, and it was in this case. While exploring broadly the idea of apps for democracy and open data, the focus was on voting as the main means of democratic engagement, without exploring how else citizens can engage in politics or policy making, and the article didn’t touch upon how to help citizens understand and use the data that is being made openly available. At the Democratic Society, we believe…Read more
Turning the tide on democracy?

Turning the tide on democracy?

By Millicent Scott This October, the Athens Democracy Forum will bring together actors from across the world to examine the current threats to democracy from the refugee crisis subsuming Europe, Africa and the Middle East and the rise of terrorist attacks which challenge the core ideals of democracy, to the rise of populism and the spectre of authoritarianism together with the accelerating erosion of trust in our political systems. It is in this context that Ban-Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations, has asked the Athens Democracy Forum "How do we turn…Read more

#EURef: ‘That’s Democracy’: but is it the type of democracy we want?

The Democratic Society is more committed than ever to helping bring about a more participative democracy. Many people may feel a lot of cognitive dissonance around democracy right now. 17.4 million people seemingly disagree with 16.1 million people, and just fewer than 13 million people, who were eligible to vote but chose not to, have not had a say at all. However, a decision has been made and people may say ‘well that's democracy.’ But is it the type of democracy we should hope for? As many have pointed out referendums can be…Read more