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47 Cards in this Set

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What is a representative democracy?
A political system whereby most decisions are made by the elected representatives rather than the people themselves.
What is the role of a representative in the UK parliament?
The main representatives in the UK parliament are MP's. They represent their constituencies, though mostly they are expected to represent their party. MP's may use their own judgement on some issues, sometimes they have a conflict of interests between their party policy and the views of their constituents.
In what way is the British political system undemocratic?
1. The House Of Lords: Are able to delay legislation, amend bills of parliament, and can sometimes prevent the will of the elected majority in the House of Commons, none of the Lords are elected.
In what way is the British political system undemocratic?
2. The Monarchy: The Queen is not elected. The Monarch has huge powers, though most of these are carried out by the government. The prerogative powers are not democratically determined.
In what way is the British political system undemocratic?
3. The Electoral System: FPTP is an electoral system which discriminates against small parties, this results in wasted votes in safe seats. (seats that are likely retain the current party with a large majority in an election) This makes the votes unequal, and undemocratic.
How do people participate in politics?
Voting in elections.
Joining a pressure group.
Taking part in e-petitions.
Joining a political party.
What is 'Big Society'?
A philosophy developed by David Cameron. It suggests that many of the functions of the state, should be replaced by local activism. An example of this is the introduction of 'free schools', which are run by local communities.
General Election turnout, increasing or in decline?
1979 : 76%
1983 : 72%
1997 : 71% General trend: decline in turnout.
2001 : 59%
2010 : 65%
Party membership, increasing or in decline?
1980 : 1,600,000 4% of total electorate
1989 : 1,100,000 2.6% of total electorate
2006 : 560,000 1.2% of total electorate
2010 : 397,000 0.8% of total electorate

General trend: decline in party membership.
How can political participation be increased?
1. Compulsory voting: Voting is compulsory in Australia. This may force citizens to make themselves aware of political issues. Some suggest it is an infringement of civil liberties to make voting compulsory.
How can political participation be increased?
2. Reducing the voting age from 18 to 16: This might increase the involvement of young citizens in politics. However, a 16 or 17 year old might not be experienced enough to vote. It is suspected that not many 16/17 year olds would vote. It is argued that 16/17 year olds should be able to vote as some pay taxes, and therefore get the opportunity to elect the government.
How can political participation be increased?
3. Wider use of referendums: The increased use of referendums would stimulate more interest.
What is direct democracy?
A political system whereby the people themselves make key political decisions. Its origins can be traced to that of ancient Greece. (Athens)
What is a referendum?
A vote whereby the people themselves are asked to determine important political issues, or constitutional changes, directly. This is done by selecting either "Yes" or "No" in response to a question

eg. Do you agree that there should be a Scottish parliament? (1997, Scotland, 74% voted "Yes")
Are referendums binding on the government?
In the UK, the outcome of a referendum is not binding on the government, because parliament remains sovereign. However, it is extremely unlikely that parliament would defy the result of a referendum.
What are some examples of referendums?
1975, UK stay in EU? Majority Yes, 64% Turnout
1997, Scottish Parliament? Majority Yes, 60% Turnout
What are the advantages of referendum use?
It is the most direct form of democracy. A referendum helps to make decisions legitimate and confirms the principle of 'government by consent'.
What are the advantages of referendum use?
If people demonstrate their expressed consent by voting in a referendum, they are more likely to be accepting of the outcome.
What are the advantages of referendum use?
Referendums can prevent the government from making unpopular decisions. The unpopular decisions are prevented when a "No" vote is the outcome.

eg. The 2011 vote on AV was rejected with a majority "No" vote, this prevented the government from making a change to the electoral system which would have proved unpopular.
What are the advantages of referendum use?
The use of a referendum effectively entrenches (establishes, and is unlikely to change) constitutional changes. It protects the constitutional changes from attacks from future governments. In order to reverse or change the constitutional changes made by a previous referendum, another referendum would have to be held.
What are the problems with referendum use?
Many issues may be too complex for the general public to understand, and thus make a judgement on. Some would argue, that complex matters should be left to our elected representatives, whom are under the guidance of experts rather than to the public who are likely to vote emotionally rather than rationally.
What are the problems with referendum use?
Referendum campaigns are expensive to carry out. This proves a problem as it's a danger that one side is likely to succeed and prevail as a result of having more resources. (money)
What are the problems with referendum use?
It is a possibility that people will use a referendum as an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction with the government, resulting in them ignoring the posed question completely.

eg. It can be argued that the 2011 referendum regarding AV use which was voted a majority "No" was actually a vote against the Lib Dems, protesting against the coalition.
What are the problems with referendum use?
There is the possibility of there being a 'tyranny of the majority'. Referendums are government by majority, and the minority that lose are not taken into account in any way. It is also argued that most issues cannot be resolved with a simple "Yes" or "No" response.
What are examples of upcoming referendums?
Referendum to determine whether Scotland should become an independent state, 2014.
What is a parliamentary democracy?
Representative democracy in the UK can be described as a parliamentary democracy. This is because Parliament dominates the political system and because representation occurs traditionally through parliament.
What are the features of a parliamentary democracy?
Parliament is the source of all political authority: it is not possible to exercise power without the sanction of Parliament. Even the PM, who enjoys many prerogative powers inherited by the monarchy, can only act if he has the support of Parliament.
What are the features of a parliamentary democracy?
The government of the UK has to be drawn from Parliament: Its members must be members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. This makes sure that members of the government can be made directly accountable to Parliament.
What are the features of a parliamentary democracy?
All citizens are represented by MP's: This means that their views must be taken into account. It also means that the interests of every constituency in the UK are represented by an MP in the House of Commons.
What type of people make up the House of Commons? i.e types of gender, race.
Women, 22% (51% of UK population)
Men, 78% (49% of UK population)
Ethnic minorities, 4% (8% of UK population)
University educated, 90% (30% of UK population)
Is the make up of Parliament socially representative?
Parliament is not socially representative. Women and ethnic minorities are especially under-represented, while those with university education are over-represented.
Why is representative democracy better than direct democracy?
Elected representatives are expected to use superior knowledge, judgement and experience to consider issues more considerately, and thus they avoid the emotional and hasty conclusions caused by that of a referendum.
Why is representative democracy better than direct democracy?
Representatives are able to mediate between the interests of different sections of society. Direct democracy does not allow this as the will of the majority will always prevail, which makes the views of minorities vulnerable.
What is a liberal democracy?
A type of democracy whereby there is an emphasis on the protection of individual rights and liberties. The law is also strictly adhered to, and government are limited by enforced constitutional laws.
What are the features of a liberal democracy?
Government is accountable to the people to make sure it is acting in their general interests.

There are free and fair elections.

There is a peaceful and orderly transfer of power from one government to the next.
What are the features of a liberal democracy?
The rights and liberties of citizens are taken into account and protected.

The powers of government are controlled and limited either by law or by elected institutions, or both.

Information is freely available to citizens.
To what extent is Britain a liberal democracy?
Accountability: Parliament forces government to be constantly accountable.

Free & Fair elections: Elections in the UK are free of corruption. The independent Electoral Commission oversees elections to ensure they are honestly conducted.
To what extent is Britain a liberal democracy?
Legitimacy and the transfer of power: There is a high degree of acceptance of the results of elections, and all mainstream parties accept the full legitimacy of government.
To what extent is Britain a liberal democracy?
Information: Britain has free press and free broadcasting. There is no evidence of government attempting to control information coming from the media.
To what extent is Britain a liberal democracy?
Rights and Liberties: Britain has signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights. (which guarantees a variety of employment and economic rights) However, parliament retains its sovereignty and therefore has the right to set aside such guarantees if it wishes. This has sometimes resulted in a number of rights and freedoms being set aside
What is a democracy deficit?
A term used to describe a fear that democracy is being undermined or weakened.
Is Britain suffering from a democratic deficit?
There is a decline in political participation.

There is increased centralisation of power that is not accountable enough within government.
What is democratic renewal?
A term describing measures designed to deal with the democratic deficit.
What are examples of proposed democratic renewal measures?
Votes at 16: Intended to improve engagement with politics amoung the young.
16 year olds are possibly not mature enough, do not understand issues and may vote irresponsibly.
What are examples of proposed democratic renewal measures?
Compulsory Voting: Intended to force people to become active and to create greater legitimacy for election results due to an expected higher turnout.
This may infringe civil liberties and may give a false result as people who are politically unaware will have to vote too.
What are examples of proposed democratic renewal measures?
Introduce an elected second chamber (House of Lords): Intended to make parliament more legitimate. A more legitimate second chamber maybe too powerful and thwart (disrupt) government excessively.
What are examples of proposed democratic renewal measures?
Introduce proportional representation for general elections: Intended to make elections fairer, and so this reduces political disengagement. The referendum on AV suggests that people do not want change.