Edexcel Politics Unit 1 and Unit 2 complete notes

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Functions and Features of elections
Functions ­
Governmental function - Elections are the principle way in which governments in the UK
are formed. They therefore serve to transfer power from one government to the next.
Governments are formed from leading members of the majority party in the House of
Commons . For example in the 1997 election the Conservatives under John Major lost to
Tony Blair.
Representative function - Elections create a link between elected politicians and their
constituents . This makes sure that constituent's views are fully considered. Secondly they
establish a general link between the government of the day , publicly accountable and
ultimately removable. For example Lynne Featherstone represents Hornsey & Wood Green
and holds regular surgeries to listen to the views of constituents .
Legitimising function - Elections provide a mechanism where citizens give their consent to
being governed. Elections therefore give the government the authority and the right to
hold power and make laws .For example the conservative government has the power to
make laws as it's in government.
Differences between elections and referendums ­
What you are voting for - In elections you are voting for a candidate to fill a position of
power and indirectly for a party to form a government whereas in a referendum you are
voting yes or no to a single issue . For example voting for Andrew Dismore in Hendon or
voting `no' in the AV referendum
Political issues and specific issues - In elections you are making a decision based on a
range of political issueswhilst in a referendum you are dealing with a very specific issue .
For example the euro referendum where you could choose whether to stick with the £.
Referendums are non-mandatory - Elections must take place every five years or at the
Prime Ministers will, whilst referendums in the UK are not mandatory . For example the
government decided not to have a referendum on the Lisbon treaty.
Direct and representative democracy - Referendums are an example of direct democracy
whereas elections are an example of representative democracy . For example in
referendums people get to fully participate in the process.
Promoting political participation -
Provide the opportunity to participate- People can join political parties for a certain fee
and campaign in various different ways. People can also vote at polling stations and
become an MP by bidding to become elected.
Elections educate the public - people become more politically aware when listening to
manifestos and choosing between different parties, enhancing the health of the UK
democracy. For example election broadcasts on national television .
Provide a means to hold the current government to account - If the current government
has been weak or made unpopular decisions than they can be held to account as voters
may choose to vote for the opposition or smaller minority parties in a protest vote. For

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BNP received two seats in the 2009 European elections despite many people
regarding them as an extremist party.
Criticisms of the doctrine of mandate ­
People don't vote rationally - There is little evidence that people vote rationally , people
tend to vote for opposition parties just because they are disenchanted by the current
government. For example people gave a protest vote to the BNP .
Never complete agreement with policies- A vote for a party doesn't indicate complete
agreement with their policies .…read more

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Minority government - Governments are elected after winning only a minority of votes . In
2005 Labour won the election with only 35.2% of the popular vote . This threatens both the
legitimacy and the theory of mandate .
Smaller parties lose out -Smaller parties are unable to win seats because their votes are
spread thinly instead of concentrated in one constituency ; Labour voters are concentrated
in North England, inner cities, Scotland and Wales.…read more

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In 2011 Northern Ireland assembly election ­ Belfast South: 5
parties each gained a good share of the seats .
Closed Party List-Proportional Representation. Used in European Parliament elections (Except for
Northern Ireland); Each party puts forward a list of candidates . The order of these candidates on
the list is decided by the party leader . Voters then vote by choosing their favourite party .…read more

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Coalitions more common so it produces a more representative government. In Scottish
Parliament ­ no single party tends to dominate . Up until 2011 and the rise of Scottish
nationalism, no party had ever won a majority.
Reduces disproportionate results of FPTP alone, which reflects will of the people better as
it is more democratic and legitimate. In Scotland there were two-party coalitions until 2011
when AMS produced a majority for the SNP.…read more

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Nazi governments in Germany. In addition Labour introduced
controversial anti-terrorism laws restricting basic civil liberties of freedom of speech .
FPTP produces sharp conflict between parties -Coalition governments are about parties
working together in the spirit of compromise for the good of the country, whilst FPTP
conflict is bad for the country .For example taxation levels are liable to fluctuate with
constant change of government - making it difficult to plan ahead .…read more

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Glenda Jackson won her seat by 0.1% of the vote ­ 32.8% to 32.7% .
No ­
Clear electoral choice - FPTP aids democracy because it clarifies the choice available to
voters. For example under AMS the Scottish Nationals chose to rule as a minority party-
this meant they had little strength to enforce their manifesto .
Extremist parties would gain representation - FPTP ensures minority extremist parties do
not get a foothold in power .…read more

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Labour's left-wing response to extend welfare benefitsto
create more equality and reduce poverty
Functions and features of political parties
Functions -
Representation - the primary function of political parties- they link government to the
people and respond to and articulate public opinion . Criticism - Parties may only need the
support of 35-40% of the electorate , turnout has fallen and decline in voter loyalty.…read more

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Welfare - Because welfare is a social duty, it is the duty of the rich to make sure that poorer
people are looked after . Therefore those who earn more should pay higher tax. For
example in the 1950's Prime Minister Harold Macmillan helped to build council houses.
Policies included; Formation of the NHS and also unemployment benefits .
Economy -Mixed economy with public and private industries , the state should manage the
economy and run industries are necessary to maintain social stability .…read more

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For example, members include Jeremy Corbyn and Len McCluskey .
Blue Labour ­ More socially conservative mind -set on issues like crime and immigration
whilst sticking to view on welfare state. Defend traditional institutions , Bind traditionally
conservative attitude on family, faith and worth ethic with the incorporation and emphasis
of Labours values of community and solidarity . Slightly more controversial policies include,
capping immigration, fighting global capitalism and expressing sympathy with the
concerns of English Defence League.…read more



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