The Constitution Unit


Elections and Referendums

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Questions relating to elections and referendums are currently at the heart of political reform debates in the UK and around the world. How can low levels of voter participation in elections be addressed? How can electoral institutions best be adapted in response to voters’ changing expectations? Do referendums contribute positively to a healthy democratic system? Could referendums be run differently to improve their operation?

The Constitution Unit’s research in this area is led by Dr Alan Renwick and falls into these primary areas. 


Logo for the Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland

Working Group on Unification Referendums on the Island of Ireland

A project examining how any future referendum on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would be best designed and conducted.

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Doing Democracy Better

Research into how we can improve the quality of information that is available during election and referendum campaigns and help voters to access it.

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Constituency Boundary Reviews

Ongoing work examining how constituency boundary reviews should be implemented and how to safeguard the independence of the Boundary Commission.

The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit Revisited - report cover

The Mechanics of a Further Referendum on Brexit

A series of reports and blogposts examining whether a further Brexit referendum is feasible, how it might be triggered, what the question could be, how it should be regulated, and when it could take place. The page includes our new report The Mechanics of a Further Referendum Revisited: Questions for the New Parliament.

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Independent Commission on Referendums

A Commission of senior figures established to review the role of referendums in British democracy and consider how the rules and practice could be improved.



Electoral Systems in the UK

Research into how the UK electoral system is performing, what changes might be desirable, and what the likelihood is that such changes will take place.

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Discourse and Voting in Referendums

Ongoing research into the quality of debate during referendum campaigns and whether anything can be done to enhance that quality.


Electoral Reform Around the World

Research into the circumstances in which and the processes through which electoral systems change, and the nature of the changes taking place around the world today.