- Created by: rasim28
- Created on: 20-05-18 11:18
Direct and representative democracy
Direct Democracy: People themselves make political decisions
Representative democracy: People elect reprrsentatives to make political decisions
Advantages of Direct Democracy:
- Rule by majority
- Purest form of democracy- gives legitimacy
- 'Wisdom of crowds' means people will reach measured decisions
- People should respect decisions to which they consented
Advantages of Representative Democracy:
- Can protect minorities against rule by majority
- Reps may have more knowledge and judgement than people
- People may not understand complex issues, reps' undrstanding is more reflective
- Reps can be sensitive to changing situations
Overall assessment of UK democracy
- Free elections: Everyone over 18 can vote, there is little electoral fraud and strong legal safeguards.
- Fair elections: Proportional systems in Scotland, Wales and NI, also for EU parliament
- Widespread participation: Extensive Presssure Group membership and e-democracy
- Freedom of expression: Press and media free of Govt interference, free access to internet
- Freedom of association: UK tolerates diverse groups, no restrictions on legal organisations
- The rule of law: Upheld strictly by the judiciary- independent and neutral
- The HoL is unelected
- FPTP leading to disproportionate results and wasted votes
- Both voter turnout and party activism remain low compared to the past
- Much ownership of the press is in the hands of a few large companies- News International
- Some associations are banned due to pro-terrorsim or racial hatred
- HRA is threatened by the Brexit
Participation crisis and pressure groups
Measures to tackle:
- Copulsory voting, more political education- in order to increase turnout
- Increased used of referendums- to get rid of political apathy
- Electoral reform making more parties electable, reduce party membership- to tackle falling party membership
- Change in electoral system- to decrase disillusionment with politicians
The nature of pressure groups:
- Promotional groups: Altruistic and serves the whole community, tends to put pressure on govt by mobilising public opinion, they often use direct action (demonstrations, protests), they seek widespread support.
- Sectional groups: Largely self-interested and serve own members' interests, tend to seek direct links with decision makes (insider status), they often take the parliamentary route to influence, formal memebrship.
Pressure groups methods and their influence on dem
- Lobbying, public campaigning, donations to political parties, media campaigns, civil disobedience, social media and e-petitions, legal actions.
Pressure groups enhance democracy:
- Educate people about important issues, e.g. Cruel Sports educated people about fox hunting.
- They promote and give a voice to minority groups, e.g. SHELTER represent homeless
- Allows for wider participation outside elections, e.g. Greenpeace members are able to directly participate and influence environmental policy
- They help to call govt to account by publisicising the effects of policy
Pressure groups threatens democracy:
- May not lead to a better informed electorate as campaigns only provide one sided view.
- Some PGs are internally undemocratic, some PGs don't elect their leaders
- Prevent a democratically elected govt from carrying out its role with disobedience
Protections of rights
Strengths of UK protection of rights:
- There is a strong common law tradition, which give ‘precedential weight’ to common law for consistent principles
- UK is subject to ECHR, protection of rights like fair trial, prohibition of torture and discrimination will remain secure
- The judiciary is known for its independence and upholding the rule of law even against the expressed views of govt and parliament
- The principle of equal rights is clearly established.
Weaknesses of UK protection of rights:
- Common law can be vague and disputed. It can also be set aside by parliamentary statutes.
- Parliament remains sovereign, so can ignore ECHR and even repeal HRA
- Increasing pressure on govt due to international terrorism, to curtail rights. Rights of privacy, association, expression and eve freedom of prison without trial are threatened.
- There are constant conflicts between individual and collective rights: E.g. The right to privacy vs security services listening to phones for protection.