Edexcel People and Politics Glossary

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Adversarial Politics

  • opposite to consensus politics
  • fundamental or ideological disagreements on key political ideas
  • may expand to cover policy delivery - differences are over basic strategies rather than detail
  • no bi-partisan approach
  • e.g. policies and approaches of Labour and Conservatives in early 1980s
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  • economic system in which the distribution of finance, raw materials, incomes and goods is determined by free markets
  • private ownership of the 'means of production' e.g. farms, mines, factories
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Consensus Politics

  • opposite to adversarial
  • broad agreement between the main parties
  • small ideological differences
  • e.g. Conservatives and Labour took up a central position between 1945-1979
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  • desire to conserve, to resist or be suspicious of change
  • right-wing ideological belief
  • key beliefs:
  • tradition
  • human imperfection
  • organic society
  • hierarchy and authority
  • propert
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  • belief that the country should be governed in consultation with the representatives of both employers and trade unions
  • declined in 1970s
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Democratic Deficit

  • declining turnouts at all levels of elections
  • wider political apathy which renders questionably the democratic framework
  • deficit in political education as the wider public lack interest and knowledge in the political system
  • lack of widespread use or referendums
  • continuation of the Houses of Parliament - House of Lords has undemocratic credentials
  • unfair voting system creates an 'undemocratic' outcome for Westminster elections
  • pressure groups with 'elite' status may pursue narrow sectional interests which disadvantage the majority of the population
  • the EU is also said to have a democratic deficit - only one half of the legislature is elected and none of the executive is elected
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Democratic Socialism

  • left-of-centre ideological belief
  • proposes to retain a liberal democrat system of government
  • analysis of society in class terms
  • supports collectivism
  • aims to reduce inequalities of income and wealth
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Doctrine of Mandate

  • mandate - individual or group has permission or authority to act and their actions are legitimate
  • political mandates grant authority to winning party of an election to form a government
  • winning party has the mandate to implement policy options outlined in its previous election manifesto
  • concept of the mandate has been extended to cover the fact that a government can have a mandate to carry out whatever actions it sees to be in the best interest of the state - also known as the 'doctor's mandate'
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Dominant Party System

  • only one political party has a realistic chance of winning an election
  • opposition may be in disarray
  • dominant party may have taken up a central position with very broad support
  • e.g. Conservative domination between 1979-1997
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Electoral Volatility

  • significant changes in voting patterns from one election to another
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  • belief/attitude that those considered members of the elite - intellect/wealth/specialised training/experience/distinctive attributes - are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight
  • those whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole
  • those whose extraordinary skills/abilities/wisdom render them especially fit to govern
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Elitist Model of Political Parties

  • parliamentary candidates chosen by leadership
  • most parliamentary candidates have similar backgrounds and characteristics
  • party leader is chosen by a small, select group
  • party leader is powerful
  • party conference is no more than a rally to show support for the leadership
  • policy decided by leadership
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  • a group of people forming a cohesive, usually contentious minority within a larger group
  • conflict within an organisation/nation
  • internal dissension
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Functional Representation

  • idea that a pressure group might represent a group of people not on a geographical basis, but by function e.g. Trade unions for teachers
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Liberal Democracy

  • combines both liberal and democratic features
  • free and fair elections
  • wide suffrage
  • use of representatives to act on a citizens' behalf
  • constitutionalism
  • checks and balances
  • protection of individual freedom
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  • belief that humans are first and foremost, individuals endowed with reason and should enjoy the maximum possible degree of freedom
  • individuals are entitled to equal legal and political rights ensured by constitutionalism and consent
  • individual's are rewarded by merit and/or hard work
  • viewed as central political ideology
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  • coherent set of policies and a programme of political action
  • published shortly before a general election
  • electorate has opportunity to read the manifesto offered by each party and so be presented with clear alternatives
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Marxist Communism

  • far-left ideological belief
  • all property (apart from personal possessions) to be in common ownership
  • no socio-economic classes - no class conflict
  • common ownership of the 'means of production' e.g. farms, mines, factories
  • rewards to be distributed on the basis of need
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Minority Government

  • e.g. In the 1974 (February) election, Labour won 301 seats
  • at the time there were 635 seats in the House of Commons
  • Total - Labour = seats won by all the other parties
  • 635-301 = 334 seats won by Conservatives, Liberal Democracts etc
  • Labour got less seats than the others put together - a (negative) minority of -33
  • this is a minority government
  • in another election in October, Labour won by +3 (majority)
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Multi-party Sytstem

  • if more than two political parties have a realistic chance of winning at least a share of power in an election
  • often occurs when the electoral system in PR, and often results in coalitions
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Partisan Dealignment

  • a decline in the strong attachments felt by voters to a particular political party
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  • strong party identification of voters and their feelings of attachment to a particular political party
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  • relates to the diversification and distribution of power within the political system
  • supposes a wide dispersal of power along various avenues and channels
  • no concentration of power in narrow sectional elites
  • encourages and welcomes open debate between competing groups in society
  • citizens can be represented via group membership/representatives
  • many pressure groups will have opposing and competing groups
  • pressure groups will have power and equal access to the political process
  • allows minorities to have political power - multicultural
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Pluralist Model of Political Parties

  • parliamentary candidates chosen by whole constituency membership
  • candidates reflect a wide range of backgrounds and characteristics
  • party leader is chosen by whole membership
  • party leader has limited powers
  • party conference is an open forum for debate
  • policy is decided by the whole membership or a large representative group
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Representative Democracy

  • form used by most Western, democratic states
  • free, fair, and regular elections at a range of levels
  • universal suffrage/wide franchise
  • assemblies or legislatures which pass laws e.g. Parliament
  • organised via representatives
  • decisions reached on basis of a majority
  • tolerance of differing viewpoints
  • widespread civil rights e.g. the right to free speech, to protest
  • a range of political parties which represent differing policies and ideas
  • pressure group activity
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Social Democracy

  • left-of-centre political ideology
  • less radical than democratic socialism
  • a more pluralistic approach to both social organisation and political ideas
  • more concerned with equality of opportunity
  • prepared to accept greater economic equality if it can be shown to benefit society
  • greater stress is laid on individualism
  • e.g. New Labour
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  • opposed to capitalism
  • values cooperation and equality
  • believes that at least some state ownership of the 'means of production' produces a more cooperative and equal society than unrestrained society
  • left-wing political ideology
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Two-party System

  • if only two political parties have a realistic chance of winning an election
  • common when a non-proportional electoral system like First Past The Post is used
  • usually results in single-party majority governments
  • e.g. US Republicans and Democrats
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