The various constitutional processes of the Scottish Independence Referendum on 18 September 2014 have both deeply embedded trajectories in UK’s experience, as well as traces of new constitutional futures. Regardless of the outcome, the referendum will be of huge importance to the constitutional arrangements and culture of the United Kingdom. There will also be repercussions for other states, Spain most obviously, but also other plurinational states in Europe and beyond. In the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, they will be even more important for the new Scottish state and the continuing United Kingdom. This blogpost, to be published in two parts, will consider a subset of these issues, focussing on contextual features and the primary constitutional considerations (i.e. competence to hold the referendum, and electoral law matters) whilst the complementary post of Robert Lane addresses the ‘external’ issues and challenges, including those of EU membership and the shadow of international law. The ambition is to map the process that the United Kingdom, and Scotland within it, have embarked upon in a scholarly and non-partisan fashion. Read More »
1. In order to start a discussion on the electoral system, in my view we have to start from the following question: what is the electoral system for? There are two answers: first, to form a government majority, and second to represent the feelings of a collectivity. The two answers implicitly contain the broad outlines of electoral systems: majoritarian, which give predominance to governability, and proportional, which focus on representation. I think the first system, majoritarian, is better. I’m going to explain why.
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In August 2009, a new Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government under Prime Minister Hatoyama took power in a landslide victory, with 308 of 480 seats in the Lower House. The election marked a real change of government, which overthrew the long term dominance of the conservative party in Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)．The DPJ ran on a platform for “the local sovereignty” (decentralization reform), which was given one of the top priorities among its domestic policies. Now, after three years of DPJ three prime ministers, the reform-plans did not live up to their promises despite a few important advances. The decentralization reform has proved difficult to reach in the current Japanese political climate, especially with the unprecedented disaster of March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and the extraordinary recovery effort that followed.Read More »