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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?

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

Electoral Choice
o For: Offers a clear and simple choice between potential parties of governments…


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