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Democracy & Political Participation

Series Exam question Marks

(a) What are the main features of representative democracy? 5

Jan 2009 (b) In what ways has political participation declined in the UK in recent years? 10

(c) Evaluate the effectiveness of the various ways in which participation and
democracy could…

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Pressure Groups

Series Exam question Marks

(a) Using examples, distinguish between sectional and promotional pressure

Jan 2009 (b) Explain the methods used by pressure groups to influence government. 10

(c) To what extent do pressure groups promote pluralist democracy? 25

(a) What is meant by pluralism? 5


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Jason Tran

Democracy & Political participation
What is democracy?
A society/political system where people are able to
make/influence decisions and where the
government is accountable to the people.
Derives from Greek words demos and kratis ­ `rule by
the people'
Abraham Lincoln "government of the people, by the
people, for…

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Jason Tran
Direct Democracy
1. People themselves make important decisions ­

2. People are directly involved in political decision making ­ all are consulted
3. People `are' the government and `make' the policy decisions

The UK uses referendums:
An important decision is put to the people; involves…

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Jason Tran
Representative Democracy

1. People elect individuals to act on their behalf ­ a POLITICAL REPRESENTATIVE
2. Free, fair and regular elections
3. Elected representatives can be accountable to the electorate UNIVERSAL
4. Governments & heads of state are elected by the people SUFFRAGE
5. Political parties to represent…

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Jason Tran

Government = divided on an issue; resolve by Convention: Any
giving people the final say constitutional change can
only be made if approved
via referendum
Why hold a
Since it's the electorate Good to secure the
deciding what's happening, consent of the public ­
future governments…

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Jason Tran
Why has the use of referendums increased since 1997?
Greater interest in constitutional reform ­ this means electorate consulted more
Referendums are a way of `entrenching' reform ­ Labour would be able to make decisions and
Conservatives can't reverse without popular consent (particularly for devolution)
Electorate = better…

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Jason Tran
Variations of Representative Democracy

Liberal Democracy
A democracy that conforms to liberal political principles ­ emphasis on rights & liberties,
strong constitutional framework & rule of law.

Is a response to the `tyranny of the majority' ­ there is too much power in the hands of a

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Jason Tran
Is the UK a liberal democracy?
No codified/entrenched Elections are FPTP ­ but seen as
There are regular free elections
constitution unfair

Right are protected, but
Government is accountable to House of Lords = unelected &
Parliamentary Supremacy = can be
Parliament democratically illegitimate…

Page 10

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Jason Tran
Political Participation

Voting in
Being informed ­ i.e. Joining a political party
through the media

Standing for office
Ways of Joining a pressure
(local, regional or participating group

Attending debates ..

What's good about the UK What's bad about the UK
democracy democracy

Strong representation by…


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