Unit 1 - AS Edexcel Government and Politics Revision Notes on Democracy and Participation

A very condesned set of notes for Unit 1.1 of Alevel Edexcel Politics

everything you need to know.

Have made notes on elections, parties and pressure groups too

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Democracy and participation:
Democracy = a political system based on the idea that government should serve the interests of the
people.
Legitimacy = the extent to which a government has the right to rule and exercise power.
Power vs. Authority:
Power= the ability to make someone do something that they would not do of their own free will
E.g - Coercion ­ the use of force to achieve ends ­ the military
Authority = the right to exercise power (based on the consent of those being ruled)
E.g - Legal/rational ­ HOC
E.g ­ Traditional ­ HOL
What makes a government legitimate?
Referendums (`Yes' answers)
High turnout
Free, fair and regular elections
Lack of dissent
Displays of public support
How legitimate is the UK?
Legitimate Not legitimate
House of Commons is elected Electoral system unfair and distorts political
representation (FPTP)
Government elected with mandate to Every government elected has only
govern achieved the minority of the popular vote
House of Lords has traditional authority and House of Lords members are not elected
political influence is widely recognised and so do not have the people's consent

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Direct democracy:
The people themselves directly make the important decisions which affect them
The people are directly consulted on political decisions
Action taken by the people shapes political decisions (via protests, e-petitions, strikes)
E-petitions:
10,000+ = written statement in response ­ forces government to be
accountable
100,000+ = eligible for House of Commons debate
Advantages Disadvantages
Purest form of democracy Direct democracy = tyranny of the majority
Disperses power widely among population Many decisions may be too complex for the
people to understand
Decisions may…read more

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Representatives are accountable and Party representation prevents
therefore act responsibly representatives acting independently
Representatives may have superior Representative democracy is only `fair' if
experience to the general population elections are `fair
Representative democracy in the UK:
Mps represent their constituencies
E.g - Tom Brake = MP for Carshalton and Wallington ­ fought on behalf of
constituents to stop St.Helier being closed
The houses of parliament represent the different views of society
E.…read more

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Features that conform Features that do not conform Mixed conformity
There are free regular and No codified and entrenched Elections by FPTP are seen
fair elections constitution as unfair
Government is accountable House of Lords and Head of Rights are protected by can
to the people and State is not elected be set aside my Parliament
parliament
Parties and pressure groups PM has arbitrary powers No separation of powers
are tolerated between the legislature and
executive (govt)
Parliamentary democracy:
Representative democracy in the UK is…read more

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National Should the UK remain part of the European The newly elected Labour government A large `yes' majority
community? were split over the issue
1997 Scotland Should Scotland have its own parliament An important constitutional change A large `yes' majority
with significant powers? with good turnout
1997 Wales Should Wales have an elected assembly An important constitutional change A narrow `yes' majority
with modest powers? with a low turnout
1998 Northern Should the Belfast agreement be approved Needed the approval of both sides of the…read more

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E
y .
. g
.…read more

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Vote
e rs
n beco
t me
­ tired
of
c votin
o g.…read more

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P Com
r plexi
e ty ­
v man
e y
n issu
t es
u are
n too
p com
o plex
p for
u the
l aver
a age
r pers
on
d to
e mak
c ea
i judg
s eme
i nt
o on.…read more

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