Can Discourse during Election and Referendum Campaigns be Improved?


Can Discourse during Election and Referendum Campaigns be Improved?

Room 609, Level 6
185 Pelham Street


More information

Recent election and referendum campaigns in the United Kingdom and elsewhere have raised serious concerns about the quality of campaign discourse. Misinformation has been widespread and voters have struggled to know what to make of campaigners’ claims.

In response, the Constitution Unit at University College London is conducting research that will feed into an Independent Commission on Referendums, which will explore potential policy solutions. Dr Alan Renwick is in Australia and New Zealand to conduct a portion of that research.

Three basic approaches to improving discourse quality have been tried: banning inaccurate claims (as is attempted most extensively in South Australia and also, in the final days of campaigns, in New Zealand); creating an authoritative source of accurate information (as happens to varying degrees and in varying ways in several polities, including New Zealand, Ireland and the Netherlands); and creating opportunities for structured citizen deliberation (as in Oregon and some other US states).

In this seminar, Dr Renwick will present preliminary findings and seek the perspective of an Australian audience.


  • Dr Alan Renwick
    Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit