Electoral modernisation or elite statecraft: Electoral administration in the UK 1997-2007

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Since coming to power in 1997 New Labour has introduced an enormous number of constitutional changes. Yet one aspect of change that has been frequently overlooked are those made to electoral administration, which had previously been largely unaltered since the 1918 Representation of the People Act. This article outlines the changes made, seeks to explain the forces behind these changes and offers a theoretical model capable of explaining these and other broader constitutional reforms. It argues that ‘modernisation’, social change and declining political participation were important forces for change, but that ultimately it was party interest that guided the actions of Labour Party elites. As such, it is fruitful to consider the reform process as elite statecraft by using the theoretical model developed by Jim Bulpitt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-201
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

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