Government + Politics Edexcel Jan 2012

All 5 marker Questions


Outline the workings of the Additional Member Syst

The key operational aspects of the AMS are:

The AMS system is a ‘hybrid’ voting system.

It is a combination of FPTP (first past the post) with the regional party list system. A plurality and a proportional combination.

The electorate make two choices when they vote, one for the candidate in

their constituency the other from the party list.

This produces two types of representative one local and one regional (multi-

member constituencies)

 The party-list element is used to ‘top up’ the constituency vote. It is used

correctively to achieve a more proportional outcome using the D’Hondt

method. In Scotland and London 56% of seats are filled by FPTP; in Wales this is 67%.

1 of 20

Using an example, define adversary politics

dversary politics is said to encompass the following:

A fundamental or ideological disagreement on key political ideas.

This disagreement may expand to cover policy delivery where party differences are over basic strategies rather than matters of emphasis or


There is a lack of consensual areas upon which parties can agree upon,

there is no bi-partisan approach adopted.

An example of this in the UK was the policies and approaches of the Labour

Party and the Conservative Party in the early 1980’s.

2 of 20

Using examples, distinguish between a sectional an

Pressure groups are common features of a pluralist democracy. They may be divided into sectional and promotional/cause groups.

A sectional pressure group can be defined as:

Promoting the interest of one element or ‘section’ of society.

 These sectional groups can be economic or social sections.

They tend to be exclusive and have restricted rather than open membership.

Examples include professional bodies, trade unions etc.

A promotional or cause group can be defined as:

Having open membership.

 Motivated not only by self interest but could be driven by altruistic aims.

Perhaps more numerous than sectional groups.

Examples include environmental groups and animal welfare groups.

3 of 20

What are the main features of representative democ

Representative democracy is the chosen political framework of most developed countries in the West, it can be said to have the following aspects:

Free, fair and regular elections at a range of levels. 

Universal suffrage/wide franchise. 

Assemblies or legislatures which pass laws, the UK parliament.

The public are not personally involved in office holding but do this via a


Decisions reached on the basis of a majority. 

T olerance of differing viewpoints. 

Widespread civil rights such as the right to free speech, right to protest. 

A range of political parties which represent differing policies and ideas.

Pressure group activity.

4 of 20

Define proportional representation.

Proportional representation has some of the following aspects:

Proportional representation is a generic term with regard to electoral systems.

It attempts to accurately reflect the proportion of votes cast for parties with the proportion of seats they win.

It can be described by some as ‘fair voting’ as it attempts to avoid the uneven outcomes of other systems

There are a number of proportional systems in the UK we use AMS the Closed Party List and STV.

5 of 20

Using examples distinguish between insider and out

Wyn Grant developed the classification of pressure groups to have insider and outsider status, they can be distinguished as follows:

 An insider pressure group has a close and productive relationship with the government whereas an outsider has little or no government contact.

 This relationship may mean that insiders will be consulted before and during policy implementation whereas outsiders do not enjoy this favour.

 Insider groups will be highly unlikely to use direct action or break the law whereas outsider groups may under certain circumstances be attracted to law breaking

 Examples of insider groups include the NFU and the BMA

 Examples of outsider groups include Earth First and the Animal Liberation Front.

6 of 20

Using an example, define consensus politics

Consensus politics can be defined by the following; 

It refers to a situation in which the major political parties agree about key broad ideological goals. 

The result of this overlap is that policy pronouncements and actions can be

very similar between the major parties. 

The degree of agreement does not necessarily need to be total and cover

every issue, but it is significant and extensive. 

The opposite or contrasting position is adversary politics where fundamental

differences on ideology and policy options exist.

An example of policy consensus is the Butskellite consensus after the second

world war which lasted until the mid to late 1970’s 

A second example is the post-Thatcher consensus which developed in the 1990’s as the Labour Party accepted many of the policies of the Conservative governments of the 80’s & 90’s

7 of 20

Define direct democracy.

Direct democracy can be said to have the following aspects:

Direct, constant and unhampered involvement of the people in political life.

There is no formal distinction between the people and the government for

they are in practice one and the same. There are no professional


The people themselves make the decisions it is not done on their behalf. 

It can be described as a system of self-government 

Politics is constant: permanently consultative and active. 

Referendums can be seen as examples of direct democracy

Ancient Athens is an example of direct democracy.

8 of 20

How do elections promote democracy?

There are several ways in which elections promote democracy. 

They allow ordinary citizens to become involved in politics and enjoy democratic participation

This involvement creates choice in who is to hold office

This involvement furthers democracy as those in power are given democratic legitimacy and authority 

Democracy is also promoted as those in office are held to account at the end of a period in office, this can be at government level or at an individual level 

Elections are crucial in representative democracy as they allow parties to

contest elections and secure a mandate to govern democratically.

9 of 20

Outline two differences between pressure groups an

Pressure groups and political parties differ along many avenues some of which include:

Pressure groups do not normally seek governmental office and to hold power, they seek to influence power holders.

Pressure groups often have less internal democratic structures than political parties.

Some pressure groups will resort to illegal action to achieve their aims, whereas political parties are highly unlikely to endorse law breaking

Political parties as a result of their nature hold views and ideas across a range of topics, pressure groups by contrast are more specific and may have more circumscribed aims.

Pressure groups have enjoyed in recent years a growing membership whereas political parties have experienced a declining roll.

Pressure groups have fewer restraints on funding and finance than political

parties who are closely audited. Other relevant factors may be advanced to illustrate how the two differ.

10 of 20

Define two functions of a political party.

Political parties can be said to fulfil many functions in a democratic political system, some of these include the following:

Parties function to represent their members and support and promote their interests

Parties also act to formulate polices on a wide range of topics such as the economy, education and foreign affairs

Parties have a function to contest elections by putting up candidates and creating a manifesto of new policies.

Parties recruit members to provide not only candidates for elections but also officers in government and leaders in a national and local context.

Parties also function to provide education on contemporary topics such as defence and the environment

In a modern context a major function of political parties is to ensure legislation is passed and service Parliament

11 of 20

Apart from voting in elections and referendums, de

With the exception of elections and referendums there are numerous methods of participating in politics some of the following may be considered:

Joining a political party this may cover a range of participative methods from commenting on policy to attending party conferences or simply being a donor or fund raiser.

Joining a pressure group, again this may cover a range of activities from simply offering donations to joining protests and campaigns

Participation may involve expressing concern on political matters with the constituency MP this could be simple letter writing or attending a surgery to lobbying him/her in Parliament.

In a more modern context internet petitions and on-line facilities allow citizens to participate in politics

It may mean going on a protest or march

12 of 20

Distinguish between pluralism and elitism

Pluralism and elitism are terms which make reference to the distribution of political power.

Pluralism is a theory which believes that power is to an extent evenly distributed and that it is not concentrated.

Pluralism has a positive view of pressure groups and considers a multiplicity of then to be good for the body politic.

Elitism by contrast implies that there is a concentration of power in a narrow and exclusive grouping.

Elitism implies that this alleged unequal and unfair distribution of political power in the system may posit problems for the body politic

13 of 20

What is meant by legitimacy?

Legitimacy means rightfulness. As such it can be seen as an approval term which may sanction political behaviour or conduct.

Legitimacy confers authority on an action, institution or political system. As such it distinguishes between power and authority, authority being power cloaked in legitimacy.

Political legitimacy stems from two sources. Firstly it arises from below, through the consent of the public, usually provided by regular and competitive elections. For example the results of an election may extend legitimacy to a new government, basing their mandate on the content of a successful manifesto.

Second it is based on rule-governed behaviour, in this case achieved through the existence of a constitution. For instance the former PM Gordon Brown initially claimed legitimacy to continue as PM after the last general election results as the constitution conferred the legitimacy to stay in post until the time a new government could be formed with Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

Legitimacy is associated with political stability and order, by contrast, regimes which are seen as illegitimate tend to foster instability and disorder.

14 of 20

Distinguish between left-wing and right-wing polit

The terms left-wing and right-wing are extensively used today they are historically associated with the French Revolution whether people sat on the right of the king and supported him, or whether they sat on his left and advocated change.

Left-wing political ideas are those associated with a desire to introduce change into the political system. Often this change is of social construction to engineer a ‘better society’.

Left wing ideas are associated with welfare, economic intervention and wealth re-distribution. The left wing are optimistic in general about humanity and feel that the status quo is to be challenged not confirmed. Left-wing ideas will favour the collective or the group solution above the individual one.

Right-wing political ideas emphasises the desire not to change and a widespread acceptance of the status quo.

Those who hold right-wing political ideas stress the need for order and stability in society and fear that changes is de-stabilising and dysfunctional. As such there is an emphasis also on authority and its use in society. Those who have right-wing ideas will favour the individual in preference to the group or collective approach.

In the UK left wing ideas are associated with the Labour Party, right wing ideas with the Conservative Party.

15 of 20

Outline two functions of an election.

Elections can be said to serve many functions in a democratic context.

They are a means by which citizens can participate in society. In a representative democracy voting is a crucial link in the participative process

Elections have a representative function. Constituents are represented by their geographically based MP and in a national sense the parties represent the nature of political opinion in the country.

They function to provide a government. Following a General Election a government will be formed. In May 2010 the elections produced a coalition government.

They are a method of conferring legitimacy on government and politicians. A new administration will claim a mandate to act based on victory in the preceding election.

They are a means of holding a resident government to account. In 1997 and to an extent in May 2010 the incumbent governments were rejected by a majority of the electorate.

16 of 20

Outline the key features of a referendum.

Referendums have several key features, These include:

They are a popular vote on a an issue of public policy

They are examples of direct democracy

They may be either binding or advisory (in the UK they are affected by Parliamentary Sovereignty)

17 of 20

Using examples, distinguish between promotional an

The differences between promotional groups (PGs) and sectional groups (SGs) include the following:

PGs seek to advance ideas, ideals or political causes, whereas SGs aim to advance or defend interests

PGs are concerned with the well being of others or society in general whereas SGs are concerned with the well being of their own members.

PGs have an open membership, whereas SG membership is restricted to people in particular occupations, professions or positions.

Examples of SGs include the National Union of Teachers, the Law Society and the Confederation of British Industry, whereas examples of PGs include Greenpeace, Shelter and Oxfam.

18 of 20

What is meant by consensus politics?

A consensus being a general agreement that nevertheless allows for disagreement on matters of emphasis or detail. Consensus politics refers to a form of politics in which major political parties subscribe to broadly similar or overlapping goals and principles, but by no means rules out all forms of policy disagreement.

19 of 20

Distinguish between a mandate and a manifesto.

A manifesto is a document published by a political party in the run up to an election. It outlines, in more or less detail, the policies the party would implement if elected to power.

A mandate is an instruction or command that gives authority to a person or body to act in a particular way. A popular or electoral mandate gives a party that has won an election, in the sense of winning majority control of the legislature, the authority to carry out its ‘promises’, although there may be differences between a policy mandates and the broader idea of a ‘mandate to govern’.

20 of 20


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »