To what extent does the UK suffer from a democratic deficit? 25 marks

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House of Lords

The UK suffers from a democratic deficit because of the House of Lords as:

  • The HOL are unelected which isn't democratic as they aren't representing the majority of people.
  • Most of the Lords are heridetary or are rich so they are most likely to favour the richer than the poor,
  • Heriditary peers may not have worked for that position as they have inherited it,

However:

  • HOL only have the power to delay a Bill as the HOC can pass a Bill after a year.
  • HOC are elected by the people which is more democratic and they have more power than the HOL.
  • Although some are heriditary they would have been tought the position by their fathers and Tony Blair stopped Lords from passing their position down to their heirs- there only 98 remaining.
  • the Lords have expertise.
  • HOL blocked the Bill on tax credits- they aren't always favouring the rich.
  • HOL have life peers who have expertise: lawyers, teachers, business people etc.
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Voting System: FPTP

The UK suffers from a democratic deficit because of the voting system FPTP as:

  • Although the voting system is democratic, it is not completely because FPTP means that parties win on a majority of the vote, but it usually works out that more people didn't vote for that party.
  • For example, the Conservatives won 36 % of the vote so they became govt, but 64% voted for another party, meaning that those electors didn;t want the Torys to win. 
  • It also means that the smaller parties don't get a real chance in winning the election because the bigger, most popular parties will win more supporters.

However:

  • The voting system is democratic, to an extent, because it still gives people the chance to vote for their preferred party to win the election- their vote still counts in a way as their MPs will be elected for their constituencies.
  • For example, although their is Conservative govt, the majority of constituencies in London have an MP from the Labour Party.
  • THe referendum on the AV system showed that the majority of the country didn't want the system changed to the AV.
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Political Participation

The UK has suffered from a democratic deficit as a result of a decline in political participation;

  • Political participation has declined because of partisan dealignment as people feel that there isn't a political party doesn't completely represent them or their views. 
  • As a result there has been a decline in the voter turnout:
  • For example, in 1950, the voter turnout was always more than 70%: in 1972 it was 77.7% but by 2010 the voter turnout dropped to 65%. 

However;

  • Much more people politically participate by joining a PG or campaigning instead of campaigning,
  • Some people may suffer from political apathy or partisan dealignment which is the fault of the parties who should be doing more to prevent this from happening and stop lying,
  • there needs to be more education on politics so more people will become aware of politics which will encourage them to vote. 
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Parliament

The UK has also suffered from a democratic deficit because of Parliament:

  • The proposals made by the government of the day will probably get a majority vote as they have a majority in the HOC.
  • This isn't democratic as the majorities' views are supported; not the minorities,
  • The HOL adds to this as they aren't elected so they are undemocratic.

However:

  • The minorities voices are heard in Parliament as MPs from the political party they support will have seats in the HOC who can vote in debates.
  • MPs, for most of the time, are not tied to the party line, which means they can have their own vote on a debate independent from their party- they may have a different opinion on something to the opinion of their party's ideology.
  • For example, in the Syrian Air Strikes debate, Jeremy Corbyn let his MPs have a free vote which meant that they could choose to support the strikes, as Corbyn is completely against bombing.
  • The people can elect the HOC which is democratic
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