Info

Real Democracy Now! a podcast

Real Democracy Now! a podcast answers the question: can we do democracy differently? If you're dissatisfied with the current state of democracy but not sure how it could be improved this is the podcast for you. You'll hear from experts and activists as well as everyday people about how democracy works and how it can be improved. Then you get to choose which reforms you think would make the most difference.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Real Democracy Now! a podcast
2019
July
April
March
January


2018
October
January


2017
December
October
September
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: 2019
Jul 28, 2019

In episode eight of season three of the podcast, I'm speaking with Therese Arseneau about the introduction of a mixed-member proportional (MMP) electoral system.

Therese was an expert advisor to the New Zealand Electoral Commission between 2010 and 2016. She is currently an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Therese sets out

  • the background to the referendum which led to the introduction of MMP in New Zealand [1:20]
  • how voters view the impact of MMP [13:30]
  • the reality of MMP and coalition governments [21:20]
  • the impact of MMP on women's representation [28:10]
  • the wider impact of MMP [34:00] and 
  • Maori representation generally and the impact of MMP [39:30]

The story of New Zealand's radical change to their electoral system and it's broad impacts is a fascinating one. 

Patreon to fund the transcription of podcast episodes

I have set up a Patreon account to raise funds to pay for the transcription of podcast episodes. If you would like to support this endeavour please visit the Patreon page and sign up for either regular monthly contributions (from $2 pm) to a one-off contribution of whatever you can afford.

The next podcast episode will be about electoral systems in South East Asia.

Apr 22, 2019

In this episode, I’m talking with Antony Green about the Australian electoral system and Vote Compass, a tool which allows voters to explore how their views align with the major parties.

Antony is an Australian psephologist and commentator. He is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's election analyst. As well as being an Adjunct Professor University of Sydney in the School of Social and Political Sciences.

I spoke with Antony about how he came to be Australia’s best-known election analyst - he said he was in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills.

He identified three institutions which define Australian politics:

  1. Compulsory voting
  2. Preferential voting
  3. Bi-cameral Houses of Parliament

And highlighted a couple of institutional challenges in Australia

  • The power of our Senate undermines the mandate given to the House of Representatives to implement the policies they took to the election
  • Strict rules around what counts as a validly completed ballot paper results in around one-third to a half of all votes being considered informal.

I also asked Antony what he thought of the idea of a Citizens’ Senate. He noted that it would be difficult in practice due to the need to amend the Australian Constitution and that there would be many questions to be answered about how it might work in practice.

Anthony has been involved in the development of Vote Compass here in Australia and I asked him about the benefits and limitations of the tool.

My interview with Antony was recorded some time ago and we are currently in the midst of a Federal Election here in Australia. As Antony suggested in his comments on Vote Compass, it has been extended to include the ultra-conservative party One Nation. It will be interesting to see the impact of a party to the right of the Liberal/Nationals on where people’s policy preferences align.

If you would like to see how your policy preferences align with four of the political parties contesting the upcoming 2019 Federal Election visit the ABC’s Vote Compass.

Apr 15, 2019
In this episode, I’m talking with Dr Camille Bedock about her book Reforming Democracy: Institutional engineering in Western Europe, 1990 - 2010 and also about her more recent research with Sophie Panel on citizen conceptions of how democratic their democracy is and with Nicolas Sauger on how electoral systems with majority bonuses affect electoral competition.
 
Camille's book is based on her thesis and looks at electoral and other reforms in Italy and France [1.35] with a focus on the determinants and processes of institutional reform. 
 
For her research, Camille focused on formal institutions [3.50] which regulate the functioning of democracy. In particular, she looked at bundles of reforms [5.25] building on Lijphart’s work in Patterns of Democracy, finding that often institutional components 'move together.’ She proves examples of such bundles of reforms [8.05] such as changes to the length of the Presidential term and the electoral calendar term in France. Her research concludes that bundles of reforms are the norm rather than the exception.
 
Camille identifies three key findings of her research [10.15]
  1. Institutional reforms are not exceptional or rare
  2. Political elites make reforms in reaction to events rather than in a proactive way
  3. To understand change and stability we need to look at the processes of reform which are either consensual or conflictual.
In considering democratic legitimacy and trust [13.45] Camille notes that whilst lack of legitimacy can lead to institutional reforms there is little evidence available about whether institutional reforms can restore legitimacy and trust. And she points out that legitimacy and trust may depend on an individual’s views on how democracy should operate. Her recent research with Sophie Panel [16.15] on the views of French people on how democratic their democracy is, suggests that people who hold minimalist views on democracy have a higher regard for their democracy as do people who voted for the party which won the last election.
 
Finally, Camille in conjunction with Nicolas Sauger [18.55] has looked at the impact of majority bonus systems on electoral competition and representative outcomes.
Mar 26, 2019
In this episode, I am speaking with Professor Pippa Norris about her work on electoral integrity. 
 
Pippa Norris, is the Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Electoral Integrity Project.
 
Pippa has published almost fifty books. Most recently these books focus on electoral integrity. with Electoral Integrity (2017 Cambridge), Election Watchdogs (ed. 2017 Oxford), Why American Elections are Flawed (2017 Cornell), Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit and Authoritarian-Populism (2018 Cambridge, with Ronald Inglehart) and Electoral Integrity in America (ed. 2018 Oxford University Press).
 
Pippa talks about
  • key features of electoral integrity
  • factors which support or hinder electoral integrity
  • why the United States is at the bottom of the ‘scoreboard’ amongst Western democracies in regard to electoral integrity and
  • how different electoral systems impact on the representation of minorities and women.
Mar 18, 2019
 
Welcome to Episode 10 in this special bonus series of Real Democracy Now! a podcast about Deliberation, Culture and Context.
 
This bonus series has been made in collaboration with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. In this series, I’ve spoken with most of the presenters at the Centre's conference on Deliberation, Culture and Context, which was held in early December 2017. This conference brought together scholars from around the world to examine the different forms, meanings, and significance associated with deliberation in various cultures and contexts. A copy of the conference program is available here.
 
This Conference was supported by John's ARC Laureate Fellowship entitled "Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System."
 
In this episode, I’m speaking with Professor John Dryzek about his ARC Laureate Fellowship, his reflections on the Conference generally, how we might establish global deliberative processes and directions for future research in this area.
 
In reflecting on the conference John made a number of interesting points about deliberation, culture and context:
  • deliberation is a universal capacity - anyone anywhere can do it
  • however, deliberation is manifested differently in different cultures and contexts
  • context and culture should not be conflated
  • culture involves processes of meaning-making to which deliberation can contribute
  • there are ethical issues associated with critiquing other cultures.

Despite the range of cultures and contexts in which deliberation occurs John believes that 'we can't simply wait' until we understand these different approaches before we develop global deliberative processes or we could be waiting forever. 

John identifies two broad research agendas:
  1. consider research questions from a non-western perspective
  2. undertake empirical research looking at how deliberative processes can feed into global governance.
The next episode of the podcast will be back to Season 3 looking at Elections, Electoral Systems and Alternatives. In episode 5 of Season 3, I’ll be talking with Professor Pippa Norris about electoral integrity. 
Mar 4, 2019
This is the ninth episode in a bonus series of Real Democracy Now! a podcast talking about Deliberation, Culture and Context.
 
 
This bonus series has been made in collaboration with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. In this series, I speak with a number of people who participated in the Centre's conference in early December 2017 which brought together scholars from around the world to examine the different forms, meanings, and significance associated with deliberation in various cultures and contexts. A copy of the conference program is available here.
 
This Conference was supported by John Dryzek's ARC Laureate Fellowship entitled "Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System."
 
In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr Quinlan Bowman.
 
I spoke with Quinlan about his reflections on the Conference where he was one of the speakers in the final roundtable discussion - Deliberation, Culture and Context: the state of play.
 
Quinlan identified recurring anxiety, amongst academics, about making normative judgements about democratic practices around the world. He takes the view that 'all social research is value guided as well as value-laden.'
 
He made four suggestions to address this potential value bias:
  1. be open and transparent about our judgements when looking at other cultures
  2. be open to being wrong, what he calls 'cultural self-criticism'
  3. make cultural self-criticism an explicit component of cross-cultural studies, and
  4. bring the subjects of our investigations into the evaluation of our findings and be open to modifying our conclusions based on their input.

He noted that there are lots of reasons why doing these things is hard.

Quinlan's current research is looking at friendship as a cross-cultural phenomenon which embodies democratic values, such as treating one and another as free and equal. 
 
Finally, Quinlan believes the Deliberation, Culture and Context Conference demonstrates that the field of deliberative democracy continues to develop from its original roots in mainly western cultural practices.
 
In the final episode in this bonus series I’ll be speaking with Professor John Dryzek reflecting on the conference overall. I hope you’ll join me then.
 
 
Jan 21, 2019
Welcome to Episode 8 in this special bonus series of Real Democracy Now! a podcast about Deliberation, Culture and Context.
 
This bonus series has been made in collaboration with the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra. In this series, I speak with a number of people who participated in the Centre's conference in early December 2017 which brought together scholars from around the world to examine the different forms, meanings, and significance associated with deliberation in various cultures and contexts. A copy of the conference program is available here.
 
This Conference was supported by John Dryzek's ARC Laureate Fellowship entitled "Deliberative Worlds: Democracy, Justice and a Changing Earth System."
 
In this episode, I’m speaking with Professor John Parkinson, who is currently a Professor of Social and Political Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
 
I spoke with John about his reflections on the Conference where he was one of the speakers in the final roundtable discussion - Deliberation, Culture and Context: the state of play.
 
John talked about his view that culture was not a noun and the importance of meaning-making to the practice of culture.
 
He referred to the democratic innovations happening in South America and Ireland. And suggested that perhaps deliberative democrats have become hypnotised by the word deliberation and we should think about it as one mode of decision-making.
 
John saw the Deliberation, Culture and Context as a conversation starter to more detailed thinking and work in this area.
 
In the final two episodes in this bonus series I’ll be speaking to Dr Quinlan Bowman and Professor John Dryzek reflecting on the conference overall. I hope you’ll join me then.
1