Democracy and Political Participation

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What is legitimacy?

  • 'Right to govern' or to 'make laws'
  • Excercising power- force someone to do something

What is democracy?

  • Any system where the people have access to independent information and able to influence the government
  • Modern democracy:
  • free and fair regular elections
  • free press and media
  • all equal under the law
  • Gov. operates in interests of the people

Direct Democracy:

  • People make decisions themselves
  • take initiative in making change
  • A: educate public about political issues
  • A: people participate more/increased legitimacy
  • A: referendums solve conflict in gov
  • D: too complex
  • D: people may vote emotionally/irrationally
  • D: voter fatigue
  • D: tyranny of the majority
  • D: turnout low, lack legitimacy

Rep Democracy:

  • people elect representatives
  • delegate voting power to reps
  • parties that represent different views
  • pressure groups that represent different sections of society, minorities etc
  • A: no time to vote so reps do it
  • A: more knowledge and experience
  • A: accountable for decisions
  • A: Reps more rational
  • A: educate public
  • D: May ignore constitution
  • D: too much political colnflict
  • D: may follow party line


  • Voting
  • Referendums
  • Political parties
  • pressure groups

Decline in participation:

  • turnouts low (1992 77.7% 2010 65.1%)
  • party membership falling
  • Activism in parties fallen

methods of increasing participation:

  • A: increases turnout
  • A: people think about politics
  • A: people more used to voting
  • A: legitimacy
  • D: abuses freedom
  • D: artificial results
  • D: costly
  • D: apathy not solved
  • VOTES AT 16
  • A: young politically aware
  • A: improves identification wih…


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