Government and Politics AS Unit 1: Democracy and Political Participation revision notes complete

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Unit 1: Democracy and Political Participation
Democracy: `rule by the people' ­ Athens 508 BC
Sovereignty: principle of absolute and unlimited power- supreme legal authority (legal sovereignty)
on unchangeable political authority (political sovereignty.)
Direct Democracy: people make fundamental decisions for themselves. Rule BY the people
Unmediated will of the people Physically impossible-no venue big
People would have incentive to remain enough
politically educated Government has become too complex
Promote active citizenship and political for decision to be taken by amateurs
participation People may be misinformed on
People may be too busy
Representative Democracy: people elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf. Rule
FOR the people.
Key conditions:
Media is Free
Choice of candidates
Full adult franchise
Elections - Regular
Elections ­ Fair
Level playing field
Secret Ballot
Much more practical and efficient People's opinions may be
Government run by professional experts misinterpreted or
issues would be too complex for public misrepresented/ignored by politicians
to decide Too much power to the politicians
Division of Labour- allows the public to Opportunities for political participation
focus on other tasks and recreations less regular and perhaps less significant
Representatives- unlike the masses in a The public may lose incentive to remain
direct democracy, can be held into politically educated because of being
account excluded from daily decisions making.

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Parliamentary Democracy: one way to organize a representative democracy
1. The public are represented by Parliament, via Elections
2. The Government is drawn from parliament (rather than being directly elected by the public)
3. Government is held accountable by Parliament.
Liberal Democracy: attempts to combine a representative democracy with the liberal goal of a
limited government.
Can be understood as a representative with three additional liberal features:
1. Civil Liberties are guaranteed
2. Free Market, capitalist economy
3.…read more

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Parliament The legislative branch, bi-cameral
House of Commons (650 MPs)
House of Lords (life peers, hereditary peers and Lords spiritual
Pressure Groups Wide ranch who try to represent people's views.
Promotional Groups and Sectional Groups
Elitist Vs Pluralist views
Referendums An opportunity for the electorate to vote directly on a particular issue.
The wording and timing of the question is decided by Government (or,
if relevant, a devolved institution.)
Devolution The lending of power from the central government (Westminster) to the
regions (e.g., Scottish Parlt.…read more

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Wales 2011 Extending the law Yes by 63.5% Constitutional
making powers of issues
the National
assembly of
UK 2011 Should the FPTP No by 67.9% Constitutional
system be issues- coalition
changed to AV? govt split.…read more

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Joining Pressure No. members Cause group Sectional group
Groups membership has membership has fallen.
soared e.g. RSPB now E.g. Trade Unions from
has over 1 million 1979
E-petitions No. Signatures Official gov.…read more

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Devolutions Brings decision closer Power isn't spread
to the people equally across the UK
`West Loathian
EU Parlt. Elected by very Turnout for elections
proportional system very low.
UL only control 72/754
Real power lies with
the Council of
Minister's not the EU
How can it be strengthened?
Arguments for Wider Use of Referendums Arguments against wider use of referendums.…read more

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C/A Minor constitutional changes see less important
than much more social legislation, but we don't
normally put the latter into a referendum.
Point Explanation Advantages Disadvantages
Compulsory Problems with turnout are Increased participation Not democratic to
Voting prompting this discussion.…read more

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Part of that
job prospects etc.. punishment is losing
Rehabilitation: Part of the the vote
point of prison is to Prisoners are outlaws-
rehabilitate inmates as they have out
law-abiding members of themselves outside
society, who fulfil their civic the law and therefore
duty's. Voting is such a duty should be put outside
Respect from the EU court of the law-making
of human rights demands process
that we follow the 2006 Practical problems:
judgement. constituency
boundaries.…read more


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