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Title: Democracy and constitutional change in Britain
Author: Seyd, Ben
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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Since 1997, Britain has undergone a major programme of constitutional reform. The programme was introduced against a backdrop of declining electoral participation and political trust. A key objective of the reforms was to strengthen citizens' engagement with the political system. This analysis explores how far the reforms have succeeded in generating closer linkages between citizens and governments, manifested in higher rates of electoral turnout and political trust. Four reforms are analysed in detail: the regulation of party funding, electoral reform, devolution, and directly elected local mayors. In evaluating the impact of these reforms, the analysis draws on a variety of input (ie. pre-reform) and outcome (ie. post-reform) measures. In relation to devolution to Scotland, the analysis finds that institutional reform has established a tier of government in which a substantial proportion of Scots invest their trust. However, devolution appears to have had a less substantive impact on electoral turnout. In the case of new electoral rules, the opposite appears to be the case: those who favour the new voting rules are mildly more likely to participate in elections than those who do not, although there is no relationship with political trust. Directly elected mayors have had little impact on aggregate rates of turnout, although the evidence from London suggests that support for the model is positively associated with electoral turnout. The dividend from the tighter regulation of party funding appears less positive, since people with low levels of political trust are only marginally more likely to favour reform than those with high levels of trust. Thus, the constitutional reforms appear to have had some impact, although the effects are not substantial and consistent. The analysis concludes by examining the likely impact of a more radical set of institutional reforms, either within the representative model, or extending to forms of direct democracy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available