politics elections

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elections and representation

the main elections in the UK are

  • general elections-(westminister elections) every five years the seats in the house of commons is up for re-election.
  • devolved assembly elections-these are elections to the scottish parliament, the welsh assembly and the northern ireland assembly, fixed term elections every 4 years
  • european parliment elections-fixed term elections every 5 years
  • local elections- these are elections to district, borough and county councils. they include elections to the greater mayor assembly and for the london mayor. and take place every four to five years.

differences between elections and referendums


  • fill office/ form government
  • vote for candidate/party
  • general issues
  • regular(legal requirement)
  • representative democracy


  • make policy decisions
  • select yes/no option
  • specific issues
  • ad hoc(decided by government
  • direct democracy

functions of elections

  • form governments
  • ensure representation
  • uphold legitimacy

forming governments

in the UK governments are formed from the leading members of the majority party in the house of commons.except for in may 2010 and feb 1974, the system has formed a single stable party government.the leader of the largest party becomes the prime minister and his first task is to appoint the other ministers in his or her government. when coalitions form it takes time to rewrite a manifesto that know one voted for.

ensuring representation

they create a link between the elected politician and their constituency. this ensures that any concerns and grievances are properly articulated and addressed.secondly they create a link between the government of the day and public opinion. elections give the public the chance to hold politicans directly accountable and therefore ultimatley removable, so people are in charge.

however there are doubts about the effectiveness of elections in ensuring representation

  • five years is a long time compared to other liberal democracies and therefore weakens the link between voters and representatives.
  • how should politicians represent their electors

upholding legitimacy

elections play a crucial role in maintaining legitimacy therefore maintaining political stabilty. people are given the chance to participate which makes them more likely to abide by the laws made by the government.

however elections in the UK may not be good at maintaining legitimacy

  • because of the low turnouts, this reduces withholding consent because of the increase in voter apathy
  • there has been less support for the two main parties indicating a decline in the satisfaction of these parties

how does representation work?

how can one person represent a constituency? and what exactly do they represent, their interests, views, groups....the main three are;

  • trusteeship
  • the doctrine of the mandate
  • descriptive representation


politicans should act as trustees and not as delegates. it is their job to make decisions for you based on their superior knowlege because majority of people are unsure of what they want.this creates a gap between what the people want and what the politican wants because he or she does not have to take into account what the public say.this gap could be filled by introducing recall elections, so politicans know to represent the…


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