Politics - Democratic Systems

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  • Democratic Systems
    • Direct Democracy
      • Individuals express their opinions themselves. Origin: Ancient Athens - males could take part in decision-making in public meetings. Not practical in a large modern state
        • - Individuals express opinions themselves
        • Citizens are more active in decision-making
        • - Not elective
      • Advantages
        • Equal weight to all votes. In representative democracy, varying constituency sizes = not all votes have equal value
        • Encourages participation as people are expect to take duties as citizens seriously
        • Removes need for trusted reps - people take responsibility for own decisions
        • Develops sense of community and encourages genuine debate
      • Disadvantages
        • Impractical in large modern state where decision-making is complicated
        • Some don't want to or don't feel qualified to make decisions so political activists decide
        • Open to manipulation by articulate speakers who will persuade others to support their view
        • Minorities are disregarded
    • Representative Democracy
      • Individuals elect representatives who make decisions on their behalf. Usual form of democracy in modern world. Reps don't follow instructions, they use own judgement. If they don't satisfy voters, they can be held to account and removed at next election
        • - Citizens elect reps to make decisions on their behalf
        • - All adult citizens have the right to vote for reps
        • - Citizens pass their authority to their reps
        • - Elections for reps are free and fair
      • Advantages
        • Practical in large modern state for complex and imminent issues
        • Lots of choice - encourages a pluralist democracy
          • Pluralist democracy = government makes decisions based on interplay of various ideas and contrasting arguments from competing groups and organisations
        • Reduces chance of minority rights being overridden by 'tyranny of the majority'
        • Elections allow people to hold reps to account
        • Politicians generally better informed than citizens to make important decisions
      • Disadvantages
        • May lead to reduced participation as people hand over responsibility to politicians
        • Some reps have own agendas and aren't truly representative
        • Minorities still may be under-represented
        • Politicians able to avoid accountability because elections are 5 years apart in the UK
        • Politicians can be corrupt and incompetent, can betray election promises and put loyalty to party before loyalty to electorate
    • Direct Democracy Within a Representative System
      • National Referendums
        • Direct vote on single issue, normally yes/no.
          • UK nationwide referendums: EU membership in 1975 and 2016, change of voting system in 2011
      • The 2015 Recall of MPs Act
        • Allows petition to be triggered if an MP is sentenced to be imprisoned or suspended from H of C for more than 21 days. If 10% of voters in constituency sign petition, by-election is called. Direct democracy is thus used to hold reps to account


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