Why refrain from torturing foreigners abroad?: British counterterrorism and the international prohibition of torture. 

Janina Heaphy newJanina Heaphy

My recent article published in Policy & Politics explores why politicians would decide to restrict their own counterterrorism operations, despite a persistently high terrorist threat and little pressure from the public? After years of violating human rights in the name of counterterrorism, the UK, for instance, implemented new policies, which, at least on paper, were supposed to protect foreigners abroad from the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and its American partners’ coercive interrogation practices. Usually, such changes are attributed to a scandal, to the governing politicians’ ideology, to the public mood, or to a particularly strong lobby group – but what if all these explanations simply do not apply, as was the case for the so-called British “Principles” in 2019? Continue reading

How can non-elected representatives secure democratic representation?

fossheim-karin2Karin Fossheim

Research on the democratic legitimacy of non-elected actors influencing policy while acting as representatives is often lacking in governance literature, despite being increasingly relevant worldwide in both established and emerging democracies. Recent theories of representation argue that there are non-electoral mechanisms to appoint such non-elected representatives and hold them responsible for their actions. Consequently, democratic non-electoral representation can be achieved. Through in-depth, empirical analysis, this article explores democratic non-electoral representation in governance networks by comparing how non-elected representatives, their constituents and the decision-making audience understand the outcome of representation to benefit the constituency, authorisation and accountability. This analysis explores the perspectives of the non-elected representatives, the constituency and the audience and discusses the theoretical implications of the results.

The research findings conclude that all three groups mostly share the understanding of democratic non-electoral representation as ongoing interactions between representatives and constituents, multiple (if any) organisational and discursive sources of authorisation and deliberative aspects of accountability. All of these are mechanisms that, in the absence of elections, can secure democratic representation. Contrary to what the theory suggests, accountability based on sanctions is not considered essential to ensure democratic non-electoral representation.

These findings make an important contribution to the literature on non-electoral representation in policymaking and to the broader literature on representative democracy.


You can read the original research in Policy & Politics

Fossheim Karin (2022) How can non-elected representatives secure democratic representation? Policy and Politics DOI: https://doi.org/10.1332/030557321X16371011677734

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Policy & Politics, the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations

Kweon & Suzuki
Yesola Kweon & Kohei Suzuki

Unlike other social policies which disproportionately target economically disadvantaged individuals, old-age programs, like pensions, mitigate life-course risks that are relevant to everyone. Whether someone is lower- or upper-class, young or old, everyone ages and could experience unexpected costs and reduced income. For this reason, all parties across the ideological spectrum have a political incentive to support these programs. Nevertheless, in our new article in Policy & Politics, ‘How partisan politics influence government policies in response to ageing populations,’ we emphasize that partisan politics still matter in determining the modes of policy provision in response to an ageing population. Continue reading

How do policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam?

Hang DuongHang Duong

In my recent research article in Policy & Politics, I investigate how policy transfer mechanisms influence policy outcomes in the context of authoritarianism in Vietnam. My findings show that civil service reforms in Vietnam’s merit-based policies are influenced by both Western and Asian models of meritocracy. This makes it both closer to universal “best practices” and at the same time sharpens the distinctiveness of Vietnam’s policy. While reform imperatives urge Vietnam to seek lessons from the West, the context of an Asian authoritarian regime explains their prioritising of experience from similar settings like China and other Asian countries. The pragmatic calculations of political actors in combination with the context of a one-party authoritarian state have led to transfer from contrasting meritocratic philosophies and models through mechanisms of translation and assemblage, resulting in a hybrid of convergence and divergence. Continue reading

An organisational approach to meta-governance – structuring reforms through organisational (re-)engineering 

Jarle Trondal

Jarle Trondal

Innovation in the public sector has climbed to the top of government agendas with ambitions to make public administration flexible in the face of societal ruptures. There is a growing body of research which tries to identify how institutions and systems respond to surprises, uncertainty and errors. Studies also provide insights on how different institutional conditions enable individuals and organisations to respond to profound change. In my recent article in Policy & Politics, I argue that organisation theory may help to serve as a bridge between theory and practice linking scholarship to the realities of practice, concerned not just with how things are, but how things might be. Given certain goals, such as innovation in public organisations, organisation designers would thus be capable of recommending structural solutions. Continue reading

Can citizen involvement in the recruitment of front-line employees help to identify candidates who will be effective at co-production?

Trischler P&PJakob Trischler

In our recent open access article in Policy & Politics, Johan Kaluza and I take as our starting point for our argument the point that public service organisations should recognise citizens as active co-producers rather than passive recipients in service design and provision. Indeed, there are a number of studies showing that citizens are capable and willing to contribute to public service outcomes that are beneficial not only to themselves but also to the broader citizenry.

However, an important question in the co-production debate is how organisations can effectively engage and enable citizens to become co-producers. We argue that one answer to this question lies in the role taken by front-line employees. Through direct contact and collaboration with service users, they can ‘activate’ citizens to co-produce. Taking this argument one step further, we ask if the actual recruitment of these front-line employees could be a co-produced process with respective service users involved? But what happens when relevant users are actually involved in the recruitment of social workers, teachers, or employment officers? Continue reading

President Trump’s Policy Overreaction Style during Manufactured Crises

moshe maorMoshe Maor

Recently, we have witnessed deliberate constructions of migration crises, for example, by Victor Orbán, in Hungary in the period 2015–2018, and by Donald Trump, in the run-up to the U.S. 2018 midterm elections. In both cases, Orbán and Trump skillfully exploited the challenges that the general public sometimes faces in determining when a crisis begins and when a crisis is over. Furthermore, both leaders were willing to see certain threats, or at the very least the perception that there is a threat, ramped up in order to advance their political goals. They were able to step up existential warnings while taking advantage of the opportunities that arose as they determined the starting point and other temporal elements of the immigration crises they manufactured. Continue reading

P&P annual prize announcement

P&P prize winners

By Sarah Ayres, Felicity Matthews and Steve Martin
Co-editors of Policy & Politics

We are delighted to announce the 2020 prizes for award winning papers published in Policy & Politics in 2019. Continue reading

Policy & Politics Highlights collection on the role of politics in policymaking free to access from 1st May – 31st July 2020

Sarah BrownSarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

The intellectual aims of the journal Policy & Politics are varied, but if we could only choose one hallmark that signifies a ‘Policy & Politics article’, it would be to foreground the politics of the policy-making process and advance our understanding of that analytical field. Our three featured articles this quarter do precisely that, yet within significantly different theoretical and empirical contexts (pluralism being another hallmark of P&P). Continue reading

How minimum unit pricing for alcohol almost happened in England and what this says about the political dynamic of the UK

hawkinsBenjamin Hawkins

The UK Government’s Alcohol Strategy (GAS), published in March 2012, unexpectedly included a commitment to introduce minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England, following the adoption of similar measures by the Scottish Government. Yet just 16 months later, the introduction of MUP was placed on hold indefinitely. Our recent article published in Policy and Politics seeks to explain how and why MUP came so unexpectedly onto the policy agenda in England, before disappearing just as suddenly, and what this tells us about the evolving political dynamics of post-devolution and post-Brexit Britain.

In Scotland, MUP passed into law at the second attempt in 2012 and came into force in 2018 following a six-year legal battle with the Scotch Whisky Association and other industry actors. The emergence of MUP as a viable policy option was, however, a ‘cross-border’ process with developments in Scotland inextricably linked to those ‘down South’, particularly the support for, and background work on, alcohol pricing within the Department of Health. Following its adoption in Scotland, a ’policy window’ opening in which MUP came onto the policy agenda in England also. However, this proved to be short lived. Our article argues that the success of MUP in Scotland and its failure in England can largely be explained in terms of the differing levels of political commitment to the policy in each context. Continue reading