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Unit 1
People and Politics

What does democracy look like?

Voting/elections ­ choice of parties/candidates, free and fair
Equal rights
Freedom of expression
Media free from government control
Public participation
Accountable to the public

Features of democracy in the UK Limitations/problems
Elections every 5 years Voter apathy
Freedom of expression…

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Government is accountable to the public
Losing parties accept democratic legitimacy of winning parties
Information = freely available to the public ­ open government
Powers of government and other institutions are controlled/limited
Variety of beliefs, opinions and cultures are tolerated
Free and fair elections

Democratic deficit in the UK:


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A successful referendum will deliver a clear result on a large turnout. It is much more difficult if:

a) The result is close (Wales 1997)
b) There is a low turnout (London 1998)

Should we use referenda more often in the UK?

Enable people to have a say…

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State can play a positive part in people's lives and can be a tool for reform
Entitlement of all to services e.g. health
Positive view of human nature
Strong sense of equality for all

Right wing ideas:

Importance of stable, orderly society (strong punishment)
Natural hierarchy
Importance of tradition and…

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Thatcherites or had gone back softer one nation conservatism. It is perhaps not entirely clear
what type of conservative David Cameron is

Labour Party ­ social democratic party:

Emerged in 1900 ­ grew as a result of working class being able to vote
First government 1924 ­ minority government

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Replacement of class divide by idea of communitarianism

Liberals Liberal/SDP alliance Lib Dems:

Traditional emphasis on individual freedom and rights; government exists to protect rights but not to
interfere in people's lives. Gradual shift towards `social liberalism' or `welfare liberalism' in which the
government/state takes a bigger role in providing…

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Educational function ­ makes electorate better informed about issues


A document providing detailed policies of a party produced at the start of an election campaign.

In theory: the electorate studies each manifesto before deciding how to cast their vote. This is an
important theory because it suggests that whichever…

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Used to elect one representative for each constituency
Voters put an X next to their preferred candidate
Voters choose from a list of people (not parties)
Each party will only put up one candidate per constituency

Counting votes is easy Most MPs do not have the support of…

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Multi-member constituencies
Voters rank candidates preferentially
Parties will offer more than one candidate
If a candidate hits the target with first choice votes, they are elected.

Quota =Total( no
number of seats
. of seats)+1 +1

(Used in Northern Ireland)

Party List
UK is divided into 12 constituencies based…

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How would electoral reform affect UK politics?

Traditionally, the UK is seen as having a 2 party system
Arguably, we have 3 party politics now, including the Lib Dems
AV: not a huge impact. Lib Dems are likely to gain a few seats. Possibility of coalition but not
certain; single…


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