“How sick is British democracy?: a clinical analysis”, Richard Rose (RSCAS-EUI, Italy)

Forecasts of the death of democracy are often heard and the United Kingdom is on the death watch list. This book challenges such a gloomy view by carefully examining the health of the British body politic from Tony Blair’s time in Downing Street to the challenges of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. It finds some parts are in good health, for example, elections are free and losers as well as winners accept the results, unlike the United States. Other parts show intermittent symptoms of ill health, such as Cabinet ministers avoiding accountability. There is also a chronic problem of managing the unity of the United Kingdom. None of the symptoms is fatal. The book identifies effective remedies for some symptoms, placebos that offer assurance without cure, and perennially popular prescriptions that are politically impossible. Being a healthy democracy does not promise effectiveness in dealing with economic problems, but a big majority of Britons do not want to trade the freedom that comes with democracy for the promises of undemocratic leaders.

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