Advantages and disadvantages of direct democracy

  • Created by: Milbob1
  • Created on: 21-10-18 12:35

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Advantages

  • Gives weight to equal votes, unlike a representative system where the varying sizes of constituencies mean that votes do not all have equal value
  • Encourages popular participation in politics by expecting people to take their duties as citizens seriously
  • Removes the need for trusted representatives, as people can take responsibility for their own decisions
  • Develops a sense of community and genuine debate
  • The only true form of democracy (rule by the people), especially as parties and pressure groups are often run by elites pursuing their own agendas, not truly representing the people)
  • Politicians may be corrupt and incompetent and put loyalty to their party before responsibility to the electorate or betray election promises

Disadvantages

  • Impractical in a large, heavily populated modern state where decision-making is complicated
  • Many people will not want to- or feel qualified to- take part in decision-making, so political activists decide what happens
  • Open to manipulation by the cleverest and most articulate speakers, who will persuade people to support their viewpoint
  • Will of the majority is not mediated by parliamentary institutions, so minority viewpoints are disregarded (e.g. 48.1% of people voted against Brexit)
  • Politicians are (in theory) better informed than the average citizen about the many issues on which they must take a view
  • Referendums, the modern-day example of direct democracy is expensive: e.g. the estimated cost of conducting the EU referendum has been put at £142.4 million.
  • Politicians will only call referendums if they think they will win
  • Referendums can be divisive and controversial, upsetting many

Evaluation

Direct democracy is impractical in modern-day society and decisions should be left to politicians who are better informed than the average citizen. However, It is sometimes a good idea to have direct democracy within a representative democracy, eg national referendums and the 2015 Recall of MPs Act, which allows representatives to be held to account

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