The Commonwealth: Zimbabwe’s return?

In 2003, Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth following a suspension for human rights violations. In 2018, the country began the process of rejoining the organisation. This process is ongoing. However, it has been argued that Zimbabwe should not be allowed to rejoin as it does not meet the required standards in respect of its human rights record, democratic processes and institutions and rule of law.

The Commonwealth: Zimbabwe’s return?
  • In Focus

    The evolution of the Salisbury convention

    In recent years there have been three occasions in which leadership of the government has changed without a general election having been called. This has given rise to questions about the relationship between a government’s legislative agenda and its most recent election manifesto. This article looks at how the Salisbury convention has shaped the House of Lords’ treatment of government manifesto bills.

  • In Focus

    Tunisian constitutional referendum and reform

    On 25 June 2022, Tunisia voted in favour of a new constitution via a referendum. The vote was held a year after President Kais Saied dismissed the government, froze the legislature and assumed emergency powers. President Saied said the move was necessary due to economic circumstances and the Covid-19 pandemic. Opponents have criticised both the use of emergency powers and the referendum as representing a coup. The new constitution will increase the powers of the presidency and reduce the role of Tunisia’s Parliament.

  • Research Briefing

    Ballot Secrecy Bill [HL]: HL Bill 15 of 2022–23

    On 15 July 2022, the Ballot Secrecy Bill [HL] is due to receive second reading in the House of Lords. This private member’s bill would amend section 60 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 to create new offences for individuals who accompany a voter to a polling booth or position themselves nearby with the intention of influencing a voter.

  • In Focus

    Political opinion polls: Should there be greater oversight?

    The House of Lords Liaison Committee has updated the findings of an earlier ad hoc Lords committee on the issues arising for UK politics from political opinion polling. The Liaison Committee welcomed recent advances in polling techniques and information prepared by the polling industry on how to interpret polls. However, it concluded that the case for greater oversight of polling remained a matter for debate.

  • In Focus

    Impact of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on recent political developments in Northern Ireland

    Amid ongoing objections to the protocol from unionist parties, Northern Ireland’s First Minister recently resigned. This followed an attempt by the Minister for Agriculture, currently subject to legal challenge, to halt checks required by the protocol on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain. This article considers the Government’s assessment of the protocol’s impact on recent political developments in Northern Ireland ahead of a debate in the House of Lords.

  • In Focus

    UK support for democracy in Taiwan

    The Government has described Taiwan as a stable and vibrant democracy, and an important economic partner. However, in the context of the complex relationship between Taiwan and mainland China, the UK does not formally recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state. The Government has called for a peaceful resolution to tensions between Taiwan and mainland China through constructive dialogue by both sides.

  • In Focus

    Democracy and Digital Committee Report: Digital Technology and the Resurrection of Trust

    In June 2020, the House of Lords Democracy and Digital Committee published its report into the effects of digital technology on democracy and trust. It made several recommendations to the Government, including calling for online harms legislation to be introduced within a year of the report’s publication. The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the report on 11 March 2022.

  • In Focus

    Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013: Post-legislative scrutiny

    The House of Lords Committee on the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 released a post-legislative scrutiny report in July 2020. It found that, despite the act helping to improve the accuracy of the electoral register, millions of eligible voters may still be missing, risking disenfranchisement and damage to electoral integrity. Debate of the committee’s findings comes as the Elections Bill 2021–22 makes its way through Parliament, promising further changes to electoral laws.

  • Research Briefing

    Elections Bill

    The Elections Bill is a government bill which completed all its stages in the House of Commons on 17 January 2022. It would make changes to election laws, including to the rules for absentee voting and overseas voters. The bill would also introduce new voter ID requirements and make changes that will affect oversight of the Electoral Commission. The bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 18 January 2022. The bill is scheduled to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 23 February 2022.

  • In Focus

    Democracy under threat: a case for co-ordinated action?

    An ongoing decline in the global state of democracy has been identified by a number of recent reports, with restrictions introduced to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbating the issue. In December 2021, the United States held the ‘summit for democracy’ aimed at bolstering democracy. In the same month Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, called for democratic nations to form a “network of liberty” that spans the world.

  • In Focus

    Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill [HL]

    The Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill sponsored by Lord Adonis (Labour). The bill would reduce the voting age to 16 for UK parliamentary elections and all local elections in England. There have been several discussions in Parliament about extending the right to vote in UK Parliamentary elections and local elections to include 16 and 17 year-olds. In Scotland and Wales, 16 and 17 year-olds can vote in local and devolved elections, but not UK Parliamentary elections.

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