AS Gov & Pol Unit 1 complete revision notes

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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 Causes community friction
House of Commons and Lords Public not involved
First Past the Post Not as fair as PR
Free media Newspaper and TV dominated by small group of
Two main types of democracy:
Direct democracy Representative democracy
The people themselves making a decision The people elect representatives to make
decisions on their behalf
Advantages of direct democracy:
Everyone's opinions are counted
Represents minorities
Less arguments/fighting as people decide
Allows public to focus on specific issues
Educates voting public ­ more knowledgeable about issues
Harder for public to blame just one person
Allows for more local decisions
`decision by the people' carries greater authority
Advantages of representative democracy:
Easier to organise/cheaper than referenda
Quicker to make a decision, more control
Representatives have more time to study issues ­ `better informed'
May prevent extremism
Too many referenda might lead to voter apathy
Liberal democracy: emphasis on the importance of individual freedom
Citizen's rights are taken into account and protected

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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:
Growing voter apathy ­ if not many people vote, do winners have legitimacy?
Role of monarchy
PM powers ­ royal prerogatives (deciding date of election, sending troops to war etc.…read more

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A successful referendum will deliver a clear result on a large turnout.…read more

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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.…read more

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Thatcherites or had gone back softer one nation conservatism.…read more

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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 basic needs e.g. health, education, housing etc
Consensus politics ­ broad agreement:
A situation where there is general agreement between the main parties over many key areas of
policy and ideas.…read more

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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 party wins the election has support for its
It is an approval for the elected party to go ahead and carry out its policies.…read more

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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 majority
of constituents
Simple for voters Elected government usually gets no more than
40% of the vote nationwide
Clear link between voter in constituency and Seats won in the House of Commons do not
representative…read more

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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 on regions e.g.…read more

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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 majority still possible.
AMS/AV+: coalition or minority government likely, smaller parties picking up a few seats
(UKIP, Green Party etc.…read more


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