Direct Democracy

Disadvantages of direct democracy
Population size makes it expensive and time consuming. The wealthy groups can distort the debate and the public may not have the time or interest. Also the public may not fully understand the issues involved.
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Advantages of direct democracy
Can increase political participation as the people are given a direct voice to state their views, no need for elected representatives and people must take responsibility for their decisions therefore government are not held accountable.
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Define a referendum
A popular vote where the people are asked to determine an important political or constitutional issue directly. In the UK the result are not binding on the govt but its unthinkable that they would defy the expressed result.
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Define Direct Democracy
A term that describes a political system or circumstances when the people themselves make the key political decisions.
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Are referendum results binding on parliament?
Legally= parliament still has sovereignty so they are not. Politically= It would not be democratic for parliament to ignore referendum results
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What are initiatives
Citizens collect a required number of signatures to trigger a vote on a new bill, or an amendment to the state constitution.
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Why has the use of referendums increased since 1997?
People are more informed and aware, therefore they have more to say. Also constitutional issues are now more decided by the people than the government.
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What are the arguments FOR the use of referendums?
Most direct form of democracy, people may be more likely to respect&conform to decisions made by themselves. May prevent governments making popular decisions and they entrench constitutional change.
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What is an Electoral Commission and what influence does it have on UK referendums?
Helps to ensure that referendums are conducted more fairly. Advises changes what its question seems to biased. Designates an official 'lead campaign' group for each side. Offers grants up to 600,000pounds to each lead campaign group.
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What impact can referendums have on political participation?
Can educate people on politics and increase turnout. e.g. Scottish Referendum for independence: 97% of 16/17 y/o who voted said they would vote again in future referendums.
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Define entrenched laws
Laws that have a more difficult process for amendment than normal laws.
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How did referendums help Labour in the 1970s?
Over 67% of people voted to stay in the European Economic Communities.
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What was the Good Friday Agreement and how did a referendum help agreement?
Was a peace agreement between the British and Irish Government. Due to the people of N Ireland voting 71% in favour, turnout was 81% therefore making it very democratic.
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Define a mandate
Elected representatives have been given authority by voters. Party states manifest o and when people vote for them the party is given the mandate and legitimacy.
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What is voters fatigue?
Where voters have a lack of interest in upcoming elections or referendums, can occur when citizens are required to vote too often.
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Why do turnout levels undermine the results of referendums?
As referendum turnout is often very low it results in a questionable mandate. e.g. In the Great London Authority Referendum 1998 turnout was only 34% even though 74% voted in favour.
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Why are referendums often more complicated than they appear?
Political issues are not a simple yes or no. Its hard for the public to fully understand the full details. Referendums overlook the grey ares. e.g. Scot Independence Ref, most people didn't understand what independent Scotland would look like.
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How can the govt influence the outcome of referendums?
Can influence the timing and the question to their advantage. Can choose whether to put a referendum on hold or not conduct them.
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Why do some critics argue that referendums can become opinion polls for some voters?
Can become opinion polls on the governments performance rather than the key issue. e.g. 2011 Alternative Vote Referendum-Supported by Libdems which at the time faced decline in support due to the uni pricing. This led to the results being NO.
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Why do people believe political issues should be left to elected representatives rather than the citizens?
Citizens vote on their own self interest and how the issue affects them personally. Whereas, elected representatives are supported to make decisions based on the national interest. e.g. 2001 Bristol Council Tax Referendum
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Why is the cost of running, and campaigning in referendums an issue?
Expensive e.g. the AV 2011 referendum costed 75m pounds to hold. If 2 sides are unequally resources for the campaign this can lead to a debate where the wealthier side has a much louder voice.
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Arguments against referendums
May undermine respect for representative institutions, some issues may be too complicated. May produce emotional rather a rational response. Wealthier groups have greater influence. May be a tyranny of the majority (minorities may suffer).
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Advantages of direct democracy

Back

Can increase political participation as the people are given a direct voice to state their views, no need for elected representatives and people must take responsibility for their decisions therefore government are not held accountable.

Card 3

Front

Define a referendum

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

Define Direct Democracy

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

Are referendum results binding on parliament?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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