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Democracy refers to any society and/or political system in which the
people are able to make or influence decisions and where government is
accountable to the people. Abraham Lincoln describes democracy as
`government of the people, by the people, for the people'.
How to enhance democracy:
· Reform electoral system
· Reform parliament and House of Lords
· Reduce executive powers
· Reform political parties
· More referendums
· Devolve more power (local government)
· Make enhancing and increasing
participation priority.…read more

Slide 2

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Proposals to improve democratic participation in the UK
Method Assessment
· Granting votes to those aged 16 and over to bring young · 16 and 17 year olds may have too little judgement to use
people into the political process and improve political their votes effectively.
· Introducing compulsory voting to force more people into · Compulsory voting could be seen as an infringement of
the political process and to make the results of elections individual liberty
more legitimate.
· It would also force people with little or no political
knowledge to vote. The results of elections would therefore
be influenced by uninformed voters.
· Using more referendums to determine political issues and
so widen participation.
· Using digital (internet based) democracy as a means of · This may trivialise politics
consulting widely on issues
· There is a danger with e-petitions that widespread fraud will
be used
· This may also exclude a sizeable majority who do not use
the internet
· Introducing an elected second chamber to replace the · The new chamber may suffer the same problems as the
existing House of Lords.. House of Commons and not be independent Government.
· The new chamber may have too much legitimacy and power
and would challenge the authority of government
· Making the European Convention on Human Rights binding · This may excessively reduce the power of Parliament,
on the UK Parliament especially to the maintain national security…read more

Slide 3

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Features of UK democratic systems:
Regular free elections
· Virtually all adults can vote or stand for office
Elected representative assemblies
· At every level, National (Parliaments Commons)
· Regional (Scottish Parliament and Welsh and N.Ireland Assemblies)
· Local (councils)
Parties free
· To operate
· And represent various political opinions
Political associations and Pressure groups free
· To operate
· Campaign
· Have access to govt.…read more

Slide 4

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Is the UK a liberal democracy?
Features that conform Features that don't conform Mixed conformity
There are regular and free There is no codified and Elections are FPTP and seen as
elections entrenched constitution unfair
Government is accountable to The HofL is not elected Rights are protected but can
Parliament be set aside by the UK
Parties and pressure groups The PM has arbitrary There is no separation of
are tolerated (prerogative) powers powers between the
legislature and the executive
There is a free media There is an unelected head of
The rule of law applies
There is an independent
judiciary…read more

Slide 5

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Why has participation dropped?
· Young people are more mobile and do not feel involved in the
community where they live
· Simple apathy: only 37% of the `youth' vote turned out in 2005
· Party de-alignment decreasing identification, Similar policy
· Impact of polls ­ many voters believed labour would win in 2005
· Easier to get things done in PG
· Wasted vote and electoral system
· Alienation
· laziness…read more

Slide 6

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How democratic is the UK
Area Strengths Weaknesses
Political - Strong representation of individuals and - There remain some `undemocratic' institutions, such
Institutions constituencies by MPs, Parliament represents as the unelected House of Lords and the monarchy.
constituency, regional and national interests. - The prerogative powers of the prime minister are
- There are free political parties and pressure only conventional and not subject to law.
groups - The sovereignty of Parliament means that govt with
- The rule of law applies, ensuring equality under huge majority can control parl.
the law and that government does not act in an - The European Convention on Human Rights and
arbitrary manner but within legal constraints common law rights can be overturned by the UK
- Significant powers have been decentralised, parliament, which remains sovereign
largely through the devolution process - It is argued by many that too much power has been
- The judiciary is politically independent- creation surrendered to the EU and this power is not
of supreme court accountable enough
Political - Elections are free and held regularly - Elections are considered by many to be unfair and
process - Pressure groups have access to various levels undemocratic. The FPTP system distorts party
of government representation. Smaller parties are under-
- Referendums are held to determine important represented
constitutional issues - Parliament is relatively weak in its ability to call
government to account, scrutinise legislation and
represent different interests. This is the results of
what many consider to be excessive government
Political - All adults are permitted to participate in political - Turnout at elections is low and has been falling in
participation processes. recent years. At general elections, turnout is typically
- There is freedom of association, of thought and of 60-65% whereas it was usually above 75% before the
belief which has led to Direct forms of political 1990s. Turnout among the young is low as is turnout
action on single issues are increasing, e.g. at London mayor elects 33%
widespread protest over 2010 on cuts in state - Party membership has been falling, from a high point
service provision, university tuition fees, the of over 2 million in all parties in the early 1980s to
privatisation of forests and NHS reform. about 300,000 in 2010…read more

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