UNIT 1 Government & Politics EDEXCEL

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Government & Politics Unit 1
Pressure Groups
4 Types of Pressure Groups and differences
Ways in which they exert influence MPPPD
Factors that affect the power and influence of pressure groupsGOSPEW
Rise and Decline of PG power
Do they enhance and threaten democracy?
o What democracy are we?
o Pluralism and Elitism
Electoral Systems
What is an election?
o Functions
o Distinguish between an election and a referendum
What is Representation?
o How elections ensure it
Doctrine of the Mandate
Difference between a Mandate and a Manifesto
First Past the Post
o What is it?
o Features
o Workings
o Advantages
o Disadvantages
Proportional Representation
o What is it?
o Features
o Advantages
o Disadvantages
Workings & Impacts of UK Electoral Systems
Pressure Groups:

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What is a Pressure Group? A group of people who try to seek influence from the outside of
government with a narrow issue focus, typically one or two issues; its members have a common
belief/shared interest.
4 Types: -
Interest/Sectional ­ a pressure group that is `closed'- in that only certain people can join and works
only for the people who are members. Good example would be trade unions such as the NUT, BMA
and the TUC.…read more

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R ­ Representation
Provide Mouthpiece for groups not adequately represented by political parties or by the
electoral process (as a result of it being very hard to win an election under FPTP)
Help to articulate specific issues
BUT don't always have very good levels of internal democracy ­ example could be Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall and his Fish Fight ­ where he took charge of the issue and didn't let the
supporters decide what should be best.…read more

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Pressure Group Methods to exert influence: ­
M ­ Ministers
Provide Ministers with `expert advice' on issues that the ministers themselves may not
understand fully, eg the CBI with the Chancellor/Secretary of State for Business, Skills and
Allow government's to `test' new policy formulation, and develop policy in consultation with
key players in that particular policy area ­ eg Education with the NUT
P- Parliament
Lobbying, e.g.…read more

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Pressure Group Power
Government views
More likely to be powerful if a group is broadly in line with the government
Organisation & Leadership
Helps groups to mobilise resources effectively and to take concerted action
Interest groups tend to be better organised than cause groups, whose members are generally
Effective organisation requires money and high quality leadership
Good leader brings, e.g.…read more

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Are Pressure Groups becoming more, or less powerful?
Growth in membership:-
o As party leadership had declined considerably, pressure group membership has
increased significantly
o More than half of cause groups have formed since the 1960s
o The RSPB has a membership of 1 million ­ more than all 3 of the political parties.…read more

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Do Pressure Groups enhance democracy?
In the case of the UK, it is first of all important to understand what kind of democracy we have; most
political commentators say that the UK has a pluralist democracy. In order to properly debate
whether or not Pressure Groups enhance democracy, we must first understand what Pluralism is.
Pluralism is the theory that loads of different groups help to govern the UK, not just one. The
opposite of Pluralism is Elitism which is not democratic.…read more

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Electoral Systems
What is an election?
Elections are a way of democratically electing a government. They have three core functions,
they form governments, they provide for representation and they uphold legitimacy.
Difference between an election and a referendum
Election is to vote in a government and give them a mandate to govern of issues placed in their
manifesto.…read more

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First Past the Post (FPTP)
What is it?
The main majoritarian voting system used in elections to the House of Commons, and uses a
plurality (most number of votes to decide upon its member/victor)
Typical Features/Effects of FPTP
o Does not produce a direct link between votes won and seats won.…read more

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Advantages & Disadvantages
The use of FPTP brings a number issues to the fore, including electoral choice, party representation,
constituency representation, mandates, and finally strong, stable government. Each has its for
arguments and against arguments.…read more


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