Democracy and Participation - complete summary notes (component 1)

  • Created by: lottie227
  • Created on: 23-05-21 14:54

Democracy and Participation


Democracy – a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting

Direct Democracy – the direct and continuous participation of citizens in the government (Athen’s model) 

Representative Democracy – the indirect government by the people, through representatives elected by the people


Advantages of D.D;

o    Everyone in society participates

o    People make decisions in their interests directly

o    All have equal voice

o    Purest form of democracy

Advantages of R.D;

o    Professionals can make complex decisions

o    Minorities can be represented

o    Elected politicians can be held accountable

o    Most practical form


Disadvantages of D.D;

o    Impractical to achieve as requires constant participation

o    Become apathetic when participating too regularly

o    People vote in own interest rather than society’s

o    No minority representation, result is tyranny of majority


Disadvantages of R.D;

o    Disengaged citizens from politics

o    Controlled parties result in lack of independence

o    Politicians can avoid accountability

o    Representative politicians open to corruption and self interest 

Pluralism and Democracy – the distribution of political power is evenly dispersed in society rather than concentrated in the hands of elite or ruling class 

Legitimacy – right and acceptance of an authority given by the electorate, governments acquire this from the mandate it secures in elections

Mandate – endorsement by those who’re consulted/ vote upon an issue, the ‘right to govern’ and exercise power

Deficits – criticisms of the democratic system


Positive features of UK Dem;

o    Free media that challenges gov. policy, exposes politicians’ misdeeds

o    Independent judiciary separate from other branches, uphold laws + personal freedoms

o    Devolved gov’s, power given to local gov’s enables local + relevant decisions

o    Free + fair elections, largely free from corruption, opportunities to vote in referendums (aspects of D.D)

o    Range of political parties, large choice

o    Universal suffrage

Negative features of UK Dem;

o    Minority underrepresented due to FPTP 

o    HOL lack democratic legitimacy (unelected)

o    Lack protection of rights, EU convention of HR incorporated into UK law 1998 but inadequate at giving rights to citizens

o    Control of media by wealth (Murdock group owns multiple news outlets i.e Sun, Times) + business interests has mass control despite being one company

o    Many don’t participate/vote



Franchise – the right to vote in public, political elections

o    1832 Great Reform Act (abolished rotten boroughs, created seats for urban areas such as Manchester)

o    1918 Representation of the People Act (all men over 21 and women over 30, got rid of plural voting in G.E’s)

o    1928 Equal Franchise (both sexes vote at 21)

o    1948 Representation of the People Act (end of plural voting)

o    1969 Representation of the people act (voting age reduced to 18)


For voting age 16;

o    Currently have no


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