Personality and Image vs policies and performance in office


Jan 2013

01) Democracy means people power and comes from the words ‘demos’ which means people and ‘kratia’ which means power. There are many forms of democracy, such as plural, representative and direct democracy. In the UK we use direct democracy in referendums and representative democracy in general elections. In Ancient Greece, direct democracy was used due to it’s small community which is easy to unite, however in more modern larger societies representative democracy is more suitable. The extract suggests shifts in UK democracy, which would be changes in voting behaviour such as turnout falling, and pressure groups rising. 

02) One factor which may cause a decline in traditional forms of participation is a rise in more modern forms of participation suggested in the extract. The sharp decline of party membership, from 1million Labour members in the 1590s to 166,000 in 2009, may be caused by the rise in pressure groups and political protest groups such as RSPB. The decline of traditional participation is shown by the declining numbers of voter turnout, such as 66% in 2010, from 71% in 1997. Many people, mainly young people under 35, see pressure group membership as a more effective form of participation, therefore resulting in the decline of traditional party membership.

A second factor which may influence the decline in traditional forms of political participation is the growing media influence, which can lead to distrust in politicians and parties. The media is becoming increasingly influential over the electorate, as the internet, TV, newspapers, and other forms of media is extremely common and difficult to escape. The ‘media spin’ that portrays politicians in a bias manner, leads to distrust in parties and politicians, therefore causing apathy amongst the electorate, and a decline in traditional forms of participation such as voting. The media is increasingly relevant in the campaigns for general elections such as Televised Debates, which mimic American style politics. 

03) It can be argued that personality and image are more important than policies or performance in office. These short term factors are more relevant in shaping voting behaviour in the modern day compared to long term factors such as party loyalty, age and gender due to the rational choice theory younger voters follow. However, it is controversial as to which short term factors are more important. 

It can be argued that personality and image are more important than policies or performance in office due to the large influence that party leaders have over support for their party. The electorate rely greatly on the personality of the party leaders. An example of a strong, charismatic leader would be Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party. Margaret Thatcher was referred to as the ‘Iron Lady’, and although many people disliked her, a lot of people also supported her party due to her powerful leadership and decisive leadership. For example; Thatcher sent troops to the Falklands which thankfully paid off in 1982. Her brave leadership encouraged people to vote for the party time




what grade did this get?