University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Lady Margaret Lectures > How governing has become harder-- the increasing external, and self-imposed constraints on governments

How governing has become harder-- the increasing external, and self-imposed constraints on governments

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The modern era of representative government in western democracies – from the 1940s until the 2000s – was marked in general by strong executives able to take bold decisions leading to a sharp growth in the size and scope of the state. This was a political era with a high level of identification with political parties, deference to leaders and little effective challenge by the public or the media. Elites, both political and civil service, were self-confident, and governors were distant from voters.

That has changed significantly. Centralised power is now fractured and challenged. The permanent campaign, the 24 hour news cycle, the internet and Twitter have in combination made governors more vulnerable and less insulated. These short-term pressures make it harder to take decisions whose benefits will only be felt over the long-term. The decline of deference and an increase in partisanship have further restricted the freedom of manoeuvre for those in government. There are increasing tensions between public expectations of government and limited resources.

This talk is part of the Lady Margaret Lectures series.

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