The Constitution Unit


Constitutional Principles and the Health of Democracy

The dispatch box in the House of Commons

This project seeks to inform debate about UK democracy and constitutional change, and to promote the importance of maintaining constitutional and democratic standards.  

It uses high-quality analysis to inform policymakers and the public about the health of the UK’s constitutional and democratic system, assessing both long-term trends and specific political developments or reform proposals as they arise.  

The project focuses on the UK, but draws on international evidence. It is particularly informed by academic work on the global phenomenon of ‘democratic backsliding’. This growing body of analysis explores how the vital ingredients for healthy democracies to function  effective checks and balances, strong democratic institutions, and respect for norms – are increasingly being undermined within many well-established democracies. 

The project champions high constitutional and democratic standards, and may therefore sound appropriate warnings where these are threatened. Like all of the Constitution Unit’s work, however, it is politically neutral. The researchers will work closely with practitioners from across the political spectrum, and with other independent groups and individual experts on a wide range of constitutional topics.


Our briefing series is designed to inform policy-makers and the public about key constitutional issues and democratic debates. Our briefings draw on international evidence and examine both long-term trends and current developments in the UK.

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DateOn the Constitution Unit blogPDF
24 April 2024What is constitutional monarchy and what is its role in the UK? PDF 
25 March 2024Citizens' assemblies: what are they and how can policy-makers use them?PDF
27 February 2024International agreements: what is parliament's role and why does this matter?PDF
30 January 2024The role of the media in democracies: what is it and why does it matter?PDF
30 November 2023Public appointments: what are they and why do they matter?PDF
31 October 2023Healthy political discourse: what is it and why does it matter?PDF
12 September 2023What is parliamentary scrutiny and why does it matter?PDF
6 July 2023The civil service: what is its role?PDF
27 April 2023Constitutional regulators: what are they and how do they work?PDF
29 March 2023Standards in public life: what are they and why do they matter?PDF
19 January 2023Checks and balances: what are they and why do they matter?PDF
15 December 2022The rule of law: what is it and why does it matter?PDF
27 October 2022How can Rishi Sunak demonstrate integrity, professionalism and accountability?PDF
11 October 2022Protecting constitutional principles: what are they and why do they matter?PDF
8 July 2022Rebuilding constitutional standards: five questions for the next Conservative leaderPDF
1 July 2022What is democratic backsliding and is the UK at risk?PDF

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  • Rebuilding and Renewing the Constitution: Options for Reform. This report, published jointly with the Institute for Government, draws together a range of proposals for constitutional reform. Ranging widely across key constitutional topics, it goes beyond the largest and most contentious matters to present practical options for constitutional ‘quick wins’ and moderate reforms.

Read the report (pdf)