Are Pressure Groups a threat to Democracy?

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No - Participation

They allow citizens to PARTICIPATE between elections:

- As a result of ficed terms elections are now 5 years apart. Meaning citizens have less of a chance to participate.

e.g. The Hillsborough Justice for the 96 campaign used an e-peitition and gaine 400,000 signatures which then uncovered witheld information. 

100,000 signatures on a petition triggers a debate in the House of Commons (the aim was achieved as a result as it led to an enquiry).

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Yes - Representative

Pressure groups undermine representative democracy.

In a democracy we elect officials to represent us in parliament, however the pressure groups are not elected and they still have an influence on policy changes and formation.

The type of group that demontrates this the best is the core insider groups that have links with the government without being elected to be there by the public.

e.g. The National Farmers Union (NFU) has a seat on every Agricultural Select Committee, despite not having been elected or appointed by the public.

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No - Minority Groups

Pressure groups represent minority views.

Some of these views are overlooked by the main parties as they are becoming more centralised to 'catch-all' of the voters. 

This means that specific interests or slightly controversial interests such as Anti-abortion groups such as the Society for the Protecion of the Unborn Child (SPUC) are overlooked by the government. 

This has resulted in groups such as Fathers4Justice turning to direct methods in order to gain any attention from the media and in turn politicians.

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Yes - Special Interest

Pressure groups promote 'special interest' over 'public interest'.

The majority of people only join pressure groups for personal gain e.g. the National Union of Students protested the Lib-Dems breaking of the promise that tuition fee's would be free- however they did so without thinking about the financial implications that the government would have to face if they made such policies exist.

Another example to suggest that presure groups don't care what is in the public interes us the Teachers Union strike where thousands of children across the country lost a day of education so that the teachers could 'protect their interests'

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No - Education

Pressure groups educate the general public.

They recieve information from groups who have specific knowledge about a certain topic. They can run informative advertisment campaign's such as the NSPCC's ads that highlighted the issue of child abuse within the home. 

Congressional Commitee's can be held to inform the government of different viewpoints of a range of different people.

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Yes - Internal Democracy

There are low levels of internal democracy within pressure groups.

The structures of pressure groups often follow elitist ideas instead of pluralist.

A rising trend is 'cheque book memberships' that result in a high amount of members but a low quality of participation within the group, so the only contribution from these members is thei money. For example, Greenpeace will let you conrtibute money annually to be a member of the group but it is highly unlikely that an individual's opinions and views will dictate the movement of the group,

The leaders are usually unelected and are appointed by a board (such is the case with the BMA, the AA and GreenPeace) whereas on the contrary Trade Unions etc. ask for the opinions and ideas of their members

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Then you are able to evaluate both sides of the argument and draw from that your conclusion.

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