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UK's Democratic Audit moves to LSE

ballot boxOne of Britain’s leading NGOs tracking the health of democracy, human rights and freedoms in an evidence-based way is moving to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The Democratic Audit (DA) is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and is moving from the University of Liverpool to be hosted within LSE's Department of Government. It will now be co-directed by Dr Jonathan Hopkins and Professor Patrick Dunleavy.

The quality of democratic institutions and the vitality of democratic processes can never be taken for granted. Over more than two decades the Democratic Audit of the UK has built a reputation for independent, high quality and committed research into the evolution of democratic practices, governance accountability and civil and human rights in the UK. Its four major Audits (most recently in 2012) have shaped political and academic debates and been widely taken up as a template in other liberal democracies.

Simon Burall, director of Involve and a Democratic Audit trustee said: “The Trustees are delighted that the Democratic Audit is moving to the London School of Economics and excited about the future directions that the Directors have laid out. The LSE team will seek to build on the excellent work that the Liverpool team, led by Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, produced over its three audits. We are confident that this move will ensure DA research will continue to be authoritative and rigorous, and will also further expand its reach.”

Dr Jonathan Hopkins, co-director of Democratic Audit (and LSE's Department of Government) said: “The state of democracy affects every citizen so it is vital we understand not only how it is evolving in the UK but how the UK's governance compares to the rest of the world. Following great work previously done under the leadership of Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, we will continue to closely monitor how government decisions, changes in law and developments in party politics and the constitution affect the quality of the UK’s democratic life. With Euro-elections and a referendum on independence for Scotland due in 2014, a general election due by spring 2015, and an in/out referendum on Britain staying in the EU perhaps coming after that, the political debate around British democracy has never been more intense”.

At LSE the Democratic Audit will also enter an exciting new phase in its evolution in four ways, according to Professor Patrick Dunleavy, DA’s other co-director and the chair of LSE Public Policy Group: “First, we are moving the Audit towards a more continuous monitoring format, using blogs and updates that are shorter and better suited to reaching larger audiences of citizens and political elites in a timely way.

“Second, the Audit will become more of a collaborative, open source network for co-producing high-quality information and research, involving a wider range of academics from universities across the UK, and interested professionals and citizen-researchers with a contribution to make.

“Third, we will seek to contribute to refreshing and renewing the well-springs of local democratic debate, working with citizen groups to improve the information that is easily digitally available to all UK citizens about elections, political life and democracy in their own local area.

“Lastly, we aim to greatly develop the Audit's comparative data aspects so that journalists, academics, politicians and citizens can all more easily see how UK is leading or lagging behind other comparable countries in our democratic and constitutional practices".



Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, 020 7107 5025, j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk  
Jane Tinkler, LSE Public Policy Group, 020 7955 6064, j.tinkler@lse.ac.uk  


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4 March 2013