Referendums

  • Created by: dbrennan
  • Created on: 29-05-19 21:00
What is a referendum?
A vote on a single issue put to a public ballot by the government.
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What type of democracy does a referendum maintain?
Direct democracy
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Examples of referendums in the UK:
1975: continued membership of the European Economic Community,2011: AV system for elections, 2011: should the Welsh Assembly have primary legislative powers?, 2016: EU referendum, 2019: Hopefully a second, EU referendum!
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Purposes of local referendums
Establish directly elected mayors, congestion charges, council tax increases, neighbourhood plans and parish polls.
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Purposes of national referendums
Constitutional change,coalition agreement, party management and political pressure.
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Constitutional change
Held under the Blair governments: devolution.
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Coalition agreement
Under the 2010-2015 coalition: replacing the FPTP system with AV for Westminster elections was central to the coalition's manifesto. Referendums on Welsh devolution, directly elected mayors and EU treaties.
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1997 Blair referendum
Yes vote to a Welsh devolved assembly.
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Party management
1975: EEC referendum and 2016: EU referendum in order to resolve internal conservative party divisions. Both Wilson and Cameron wanted to improve party unity.
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Political pressure
2014 (Scottish independence): after the SNP's success in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, able to pursue this more.
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2014 Scottish independence referendum
Fronted by the SNP, if the people voted no the three main UK parties would grant more devolution, turnout: 84.5%, 16 & 17 year-olds could vote, 55.3% voted remain, 44.7% voted leave, SNP supports a second vote particularly after the EU referendum.
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2014 Scottish independence referendum
3 main UK parties support the Better Together campaign.
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Collective responsibility
Ministers must support the position of the government or resign.
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Why are referendums not legally binding?
The government has the power to ignore referendum results, Parliament can pass whatever laws it pleases because it is sovereign.
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2016 EU referendum
51.9% leave vs 48.1% remain. Turnout: 72.2%.
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Brexit and devolution
Creates tension within the UK: Northern Irish backstop, increases the want of scotland for a second referendum on their independence.
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EU law
EU law takes precedence over UK/national law.
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Post-Brexit
If the UK leaves, the Conservative party are likely to repeal the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.
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What is the impact of referendums?
Direct democracy, parliamentary sovereignty, representative democracy and constitutional convention.
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What does direct democracy do?
Referendums can extend political participation, making the government more responsive to the people on major constitutional issues.
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How has direct democracy been undermined?
Referendums have created competing legitimatises (should Parliament have the final say?, other information on Brexit has been misleading.
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Have referendums enhanced representative democracy? (YES)
Direct democracy ensures that citizens have the final say on major issues, checked power of government, enhanced political participation, educated people on key issues, strengthened political engagement, legitimised constitutional changes; Devolution
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Have referendums enhanced representative democracy? (NO)
Campaigns have been ill-informed, distorted by inaccurate claims made by rival camps and media bias, low turnout means tyranny of the majority, governments use referendums to strengthen their own political position or resolve internal divisions (Cam)
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Have referendums enhanced representative democracy? (NO)
Undermined parliamentary sovereignty: 2016 EU referendum tensions created between Parliament and the people, undermined representative democracy-government took decision making on complex issues away from those with most political knowledge.
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Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliament is the highest legal authority and can make law on any matter of its choosing.
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Representative democracy
Citizens elect MPs to take decisions on their behalf, MPs are representative who make up their own mind on issues rather than delegates who must follow instructions from voters.
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Popular sovereignty
The use of referendums on major constitutional issues towards popular sovereignty, where the people, not Parliament, take the ultimate decision.
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Was the 2011 AV referendum legally binding?
If the result was to be 'yes': the government would have had to change the electoral system through legislation.
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Parliamentary sovereignty
Parliament can legislate on any subject of its choosing, legislation cannot be overturned by any higher authority and no Parliament can bind its successors.
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Constitutional convention
Since 1997 devolution referendums: constitutional convention that further changes to devolved assemblies would require approval in a referendum.
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Government of Wales Act 2006
Allowed the Welsh Assembly to gain new powers if they were approved in a referendum.
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Scotland Act 2016
Scottish Parliament and government cannot be abolished unless approved in a Scottish referendum.
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Electoral systems in the US
Separate elections for Congress and the President, presidential elections: every 4 years, Members of the House of Representatives: every 2 years, Senators: every 6 years, 1/3 of the Senate is re-elected: every 2 years.
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Electoral systems in the UK
PM is not directly elected, HOL is unelected, single-member plurality system, winner's bonus, two-party system is in decline.
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Electoral systems in the US
House of Reps are elected in single-member constituencies (districts), each of 50 states send 2 Senators, Congress uses the single-member plurality system, President uses plurality and ECVs to be elected, classic two-party system.
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For the use of referendums
Direct democracy, political education/wider political engagement, responsive government, reduced government power, constitutional changes require a referendum to make it democratic.
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Against the use of referendums
Ill-informed decisions, weakens Parliament, irresponsible government, strengthens government, not legally binding, unreliable views.
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How does AV work?
Electors vote by ranking candidates in order (1,2,3 etc). Candidates must gain 50% or more to win,if no candidate wins the bottom person drops out and their votes are distributed according to second and subsequent preferences until one candidate: 50%
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How does SV work?
Electors have 2 votes: a 1st preference vote and a second 'supplementary' vote, if no one gets 50% the top 2 candidates remain and all others drop out, their vote is redistributed.
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How does AMS work?
Proportion of the seats are filled by FPTP, rest are filled using closed party-list system, electors cast 2 votes: one for a candidate in a constituency election and one for a party in a list election.
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How does STV work?
Candidates are elected if they achieve a quota of votes, if a candidate achieves the quota (using the Droop method): additional votes are given to her or him according to second or subsequent preferences.
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How does STV work?
If there are unfilled seats: the lowest candidate will drop out and their votes will go to second or subsequent preferences.
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How does Regional party list work?
Electors vote for parties not for candidates,electorate puts their parties in order of preference, parties are allocated seats in direct proportion to the votes they gain in each regional constituency.
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What are the advantages of SV?
Winning candidate must achieve broad support(greater legitimacy), supporters of small parties can use their first preference to show support/second vote for the main parties, votes for minor parties don't count.
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What are the disadvantages of SV?
Winning candidate may win without a majority of votes if second preference votes are used ineffectively, the least unpopular candidate may be elected if the winning candidate does not need to get a majority of first preference votes
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What are the disadvantages of SV?
System would not deliver a proportional outcome if used for general elections.
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What are the advantages of STV?
Proportional outcomes because votes are largely of equal value, government has a better chance of being a majority-government, voters have more political choice (different candidates from the same party).
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What are the disadvantages of STV?
Less accurate in votes into seats translation than normal proportional systems, larger multi-member constituencies weaken the link between individual MPs and their constituency, coalition government is likely.
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What are the disadvantages of STV?
Likely to produce a coalition government, gives disproportional influence to minor parties, the counting process is lengthy and complex.
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What are the advantages of AMS?
Combines the features of FPTP & PR: balances the desirability of constituency representation with that of fairness of outcomes,results are proportional, less wasted votes, voters have greater choice (Split-ticket voting)...
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What are the advantages of AMS?
Can improve the representation of women through 'Zipping' (alternating between male and female candidates on ballot papers), votes are easy to count and is not difficult to understand how the outcome is reached.
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What are the disadvantages of AMS?
Tensions may arise within Parliament because it creates 2 different categories of representation (Constituency duties and one with none), parties have more control over the closed lists used to elect AMs.
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What are the disadvantages of AMS?
Voters cannot choose between candidates from the same party, smaller parties are often under-represented because for multi-member seats there are only a few elected representatives...
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What are the disadvantages of AMS?
Smaller parties: under-represented (in many multi-member constituencies,only a few representatives are elected), larger parties: over-represented (if other votes are evenly split between many small parties), PR outcomes: less-likely (No. of AMs is lo
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Zipping
Alternating between male and female candidates on ballot paper
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Closed Party list system
Voters can only vote for a party, each party gets a total number of votes which are divided by 7 and then given their seats from that total.
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Split-ticket voting
Voting for candidates from different parties in an election where an elector is permitted to cast more than one vote.
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

Direct democracy

Back

What type of democracy does a referendum maintain?

Card 3

Front

1975: continued membership of the European Economic Community,2011: AV system for elections, 2011: should the Welsh Assembly have primary legislative powers?, 2016: EU referendum, 2019: Hopefully a second, EU referendum!

Back

Preview of the back of card 3

Card 4

Front

Establish directly elected mayors, congestion charges, council tax increases, neighbourhood plans and parish polls.

Back

Preview of the back of card 4

Card 5

Front

Constitutional change,coalition agreement, party management and political pressure.

Back

Preview of the back of card 5
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