Unit 1 Edexcel Government and Politics (Democracy and Participation / Pressure Groups)

Revision notes (Democracy and Participation / Pressure Groups) for Edexcel Unit 1 Government and Politics AS

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Democracy (Govern by the People)
`Demos' ­ The People
Cracy (Kratos) ­ Rule / Power
Based on:
Political Participation ­ Key political decisions are made by the people
Political Equality ­ Each citizen has free and equal opportunities to influence political decisions
Direct Democracy ­ People make political decisions themselves effectiveness is based on extent of popular
participation on government
Strengths Weaknesses
Places all power in the hands of the public Only achievable in very small communities
Created better informed / knowledgeable citizens Even if it were possible to gather all the people it
would take too long
Only pure form of democracy ­ people govern Politics becomes the job of all people restricting their
themselves ability to carry out other duties
Removes dependence on selfserving professional Expertise of MP's
politicians
Relies on popular participation
Used today but supplemented ­ Referendums (AV May 2011)
Key Features
(a) Popular participation is DIRECT in that the people `make' policy decisions and do no merely chose
who will rule on their behalf
(b) Popular participation is UNMEDIATED in that the people `are' the government ­ there is no
separate class of professional politicians
(c) Popular participation is CONTINUOUS in that people engage in politics on a regular ongoing
basis ­ decisions made by the people
Representative Democracy ­ People choose who will make decisions on their behalf. Effectiveness is based on
the extent of popular control over government
Strengths Weaknesses
Only form of democracy that can operate in large Places too much faith in politicians
modern societies
People are relieved of the burden of decision making Creates a gulf between government and people
Maintains political stability Mass audience is swayed by passionate speeches
over issues
Governed by experts Representatives are not truly accountable
Voting is seen as a democratic ritual
Deciding who should decide (650 MP's)
People acquire the power to make decisions by the means of a struggle for the vote
Need ­ Free & fair elections, universal suffrage, competition
Key Features
(a) Popular participation in government is INDIRECT ­ infrequent and brief, being limited to the act of
voting every few years
(b) Popular participation is MEDIATED ­the public don not exercise the power themselves: they
choose who will rule on their behalf
(c) Popular participation is LIMITED ­ the people are linked through government through
representative institutions

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Representative Democracy
Feature Description of Feature Advantage of Feature Disadvantage of Feature
Democratic In the UK, they are called We have choice ­ 140 Usually no choice
Elections democratic as they are free parties in the last only 14 parties in the
and fair, based on general election H/C (3 independents)
Universal Suffrage and Safe Seats ­ Cardiff
they provide an electoral Everyone's vote is South / Manchester
choice weighted the same central
Choice between 2
parties ­ Tactical
voting (E/bourne)
Have to Pay to…read more

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Liberal Democracies
Liberal ­ Freedom from government intervention
Feature Description of feature Advantage of feature Disadvantage of feature
Free and fair Elections are the same Prisoners have been However there are those
elections rules for everyone, given the right to vote that still can't vote
require universal suffrage by ECHR including under 18s and
and the freedom to members of the H/L
register as a voter or run Prisoners still haven't
for public office received the vote
because of the PM
Accountability If the electors…read more

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Democracy in the UK
Described as the `cradle of democratic government'
Features of the UK's democracy
Core Features Supplementary Features
Democratic elections Referendums
Parliament Devolution
Pressure Groups The European Parliament
Feature Description of Feature Advantage of Feature Disadvantage of Feature
Democratic In the UK, they are called We have choice ­ 140 Usually no choice
Elections democratic as they are free parties in the last only 14 parties in the
and fair, based on general election H/C (3 independents)
Universal Suffrage and Safe Seats ­…read more

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Referendums This is a vote in which the Last referendum (May Very low turnout, and very
electorate can express a 2011) ­ A.V. Vote expensive
view on a particular issue Peoples voices are heard Government decides
of public policy.…read more

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Example Iraq War ­ No Vote
Coalition ­ wasn't voted in
FPTP ­ No choices and safe seats
Participation crisis (no engagement)
Ineffectiveness of Parliament
House of Lord (unelected by still make decisions and can sit on the cabinet)
Participation in decline (59 % in 2001, 61% in 2005, 65% in 2010, 42% in 2015)
Pressure groups are more effective
A recent decline in political participation (mainly turnout and party membership) has stimulated
concerns about the effectiveness of democracy in the UK
Projected 2015 electoral…read more

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Ease of organisation ­ virtual Access is not
their views referendums would be universal therefore not
cheaper, easier to organise equal
and held more frequently
Lowering The voting age currently Issues that affect young Immature
the voting stands at 18, but in other people will be voted for by Parents decide on the
age countries varies from 16 to young people vote of the child
25.…read more

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How effectively does representative democracy
operate in the UK?
Effectively Inefficient
Practicable democracy ­ direct democracy wouldn't Still only 65% turnout, with a much lower predicted
be suitable, effective or possible in such a large turnout for 2015, of less than 50%. The Newport
community.…read more

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To what extent is the UK suffering a participation
crisis
Yes No
Participation is in decline (59% in 2001 and projected Increased for 2001 ­ 2010 and the 2015 general election
42% in 2015) the byelection turnouts were low ­ is a prediction
Manchester central 18.2%, PPC election between 14% The PCC elections ­ no one understood or really knew
on average (Newport 0%) about
Partisan Dealignment [Crewe] People no longer Single issue politics ­ people join pressure groups
affiliate with one political party.…read more

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Cost ­ AV coast £80
audience increases million with a 42%
participation turnout it wasn't worth it
Reduces government Weakens parliamentary
power sovereignty
Parliament doesn't know it Illinformed public can
all make rash decisions
It's a mere `snap snot'
about what society
thinks at that time ­
based on events or
actions
Compulsory Problems with turnout are High turnout ­ 93% in Undemocratic
Voting prompting this discussion.…read more

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