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Politics and International Relations (PIR): Research


ESRC - Dynamics of Intergovernmental Relations after Devolution

Wilfried Swenden and Nicola McEwen won a prestigious award in the Economic and Social Research Council’s annual seminar series competition. Their seminars, organised in association with Nicole Bolleyer of the University of Exeter, explored the dynamics of intergovernmental relations (IGR) after devolution, especially in light of widespread party differences in the composition of governments at Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2007.

The seminar series addressed two key questions. First, given these differences between the parties leading government at each level, is the machinery of IGR in need of reform? Second, can the UK learn from other countries with multi-level political systems, where IGR are often conducted in a context of competitive party governments?

The first seminar, ‘Towards a more formalized framework of IGR?’ was convened in Exeter in the spring 2009, followed by a seminar in Edinburgh in June 2009 examining the role of courts and the civil service in preventing and resolving intergovernmental disputes. The third seminar on the European dimension of intergovernmental relations was held in Brussels in December 2009. The fourth seminar - exploring how the centre adapts to devolved governments being led by opposing parties - was held in London in September 2010 (see news item). The final seminar, held in Edinburgh in December 2010, explored each of these dimensions of intergovernmental relations in one focused are of public policy - the politics of climate change and renewable energy. 

The seminars brought together a broad range of expert scholars and officials from governments at different levels, and provided opportunity for graduate student involvement. Outcomes from the seminar series will be posted here.