IGPA Professorial Lecture Series

Long-Term Policymaking: Meeting the Challenge in Democracies

Thu 26 February 2015Professor Gerry Stoker / 5.30pmAnn Harding Conference Centre, Building 24 at the University of Canberra

Contrary to the views of those who claim there is an inherent myopia within democratic politics, this paper argues that the presence of organised political interest representation and familiar political stratagems deliver long-termism as a regular feature in policymaking in democracies. Fears about democratic myopia are overplayed, which, in turn, suggests that the persistence of its narrative reflects other forces and factors, but also that the fears are not entirely without foundation. The chances of long-term policy making can be bolstered by developing institutional mechanisms for introducing the future into decision-making. These mechanisms, in turn, would be better embedded into devolved decision-making structures notwithstanding the assumption that these levels are prone to parochialism compared to higher, more strategic levels of governance. Long term policy making has more chance to be effective if its home is outside the bubble of national politics and the grandiose projects often favoured by international bodies. If we want to extend capacity for long-termism in policy making, it would be better to build from the bottom up rather than the top down.

Gerry Stoker is Centenary Research Professor at the University of Canberra, Australia and also Professor of Politics and Governance at the University of Southampton, UK. Professor Stoker has always been an engaged scholar. In 2001 he was designated Economic and Social Research Council (UK) Hero of Dissemination and in 2004 received a “Making A Difference” Award from the UK Political Studies Association for the impact of work on governance. He was the founding chair of the New Local Government Network (UK) which was the think-tank of the year in 2004, senior policy advisor on local government reform to the Blair Government and author of the award winning book Why Politics Matters: Making Democracy Work. Gerry is a leading international voice on governance, democratic politics, public participation and public service reform. His recent research has championed the idea of public value management as an alternative to new public management. He also argued at The United Nations 6th global forum on reinventing government in 2005 for a new vision of local government as a community governor. In addition, his recent work with Peter John on ‘nudge’, published by Bloomsbury Press as Nudge, Nudge, Think Think , explores it as a method for both ensuring behavioural compliance and facilitating greater citizen engagement with the policy process. This work is having an increasing influence on UK government. In 2012 Gerry was appointed as the founding director of PublicPolicy@Southampton, a unit within the University that seeks to connect high quality research with policymakers. In the last six months he has made presentations on issues of democracy and public policy in Brussels for the State of Baden-Württemberg, in Windsor Castle for St Georges House, for the Southern Policy Centre, Winchester and for the Westminster Abbey Institute, London.

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