Democracy & Political Participation

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Democracy & Political Participation by Mind Map: Democracy & Political Participation

1. direct democracy

1.1. problems with direct democracy:

1.1.1. -It isn't practical

1.1.2. -Citizens lack specialist knowledge

1.1.3. -people can become apathetic through too much voting

1.1.4. -The 'tyranny of the majority' eg Switzerland and Minarets ban

2. representative democracy

2.1. For:

2.1.1. -fewer people represent a large and complex country -most people have little expert knowledge

2.1.2. -people less likely to become apathetic towards decision making -longer periods between elections call for higher turnouts

2.2. Against:

2.2.1. -only allows people to make decisions indirectly - representatives cannot be removed for 5 years -electoral system can be flawed

2.2.2. -representative may only be in it for themselves and not their constituency -no guarantee the elected party will stick to it's manifesto promises

2.2.3. -our representatives are not reflective of UK society

3. parliamentary democracy

3.1. Britain

3.1.1. -consists of two houses: elected House of Commons and unelected House of Lords: Bicameral

3.1.2. -we elect MPs who sit in parliament to represent us and speak on our behalf eg Khalid Mahmood is my MP -MPs are given considerable freedom to act on our behalf

3.1.3. -elections take place every 5 years since 2010 -the Prime Minister is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons eg in 2015 David Cameron became PM because he was leader of the biggest party

3.2. criticisms of British democracy

3.2.1. -the Monarchy: any American can be president/head of state, whereas head of state in the UK is ascribed -the electoral system: First Past The Post is unfair - don't need a majority to win eg 2015: UKIP got 13% vote, 1 seat. SNP got 5% vote, 56 seats. CONCENTRATION.

3.2.2. -the House of Lords: unelected. Life peers chosen by PM, sometimes awarded not on achievement but for donations etc. Hereditary peers are ascribed their place. HoL does sometimes defeat House of Commons -little real choice: a lot of parties are centerist and have similar policies

3.2.3. -Politicians are unrepresentative: don't look like British society. 51% UK is female, 30% of Commons is. 13% UK of ethnic minority origin,6% of Commons is. -no codified constitution: really easy to change in governments favour eg Conservatives remapping boundaries

3.2.4. -international pressures: globalisation = companies relocating anywhere. EU takes power on borders, cleanliness etc -a crisis of participation: people aren't getting involved in politics eg turnout was 59% in 2001 compared to 84% in 1950s

4. referenda

4.1. popular vote on a single issue

4.2. Advantages:

4.2.1. 1. Encourage participation and education eg Scottish Independence - 85%

4.2.2. 2. allow precise questions to be asked and answered - yes or no question

4.2.3. 3. people have final decision: Gibralta 2002 referenda: 99% of 88% turnout voted to remain British

4.2.4. 4. decision enjoys greater legitimacy

4.2.5. 5. builds faith in the system: gets ride of cynicism, people feel like they've been listened to

4.3. Disadvantages:

4.3.1. 1. Issues are complex - some issues should be left to politicians eg during EU referenda, people got contridicting information ie £350million a week sent to EU

4.3.2. 2. only allow a yes or no answer

4.3.3. 3. undermine 'responsible' government: removes Doctor's Mandate eg 2008 congestion charge in Manchester

4.3.4. 4. How to ensure balance in debates: questions could be biased.

4.3.5. 5. turnout could undermine the result eg 1998 Mayor and London assembly: 33%

4.3.6. 6. can be used for cynical 'political' reasons: used to suit their own agenda

5. liberal democracy

5.1. UK is liberal democracy in that it combines restrictions on government with popular control

5.2. Limited government

5.2.1. -has a constitution -decentralisation

5.2.2. -protection of rights eg Bill of Rights USA or European Convention on Human Rights UK -regular elections

5.2.3. -rule of law and an independent judicary -universal franchise

5.2.4. -bicameralism -political equality

5.2.5. -free and fair elections -democratic rights

5.2.6. -pressure groups -competitive elections

5.2.7. -respected result

6. political participation

6.1. ways in which people can get involved in politics:

6.1.1. -voting (in election or referenda)

6.1.2. -joining a political party

6.1.3. -joining a pressure group

6.1.4. -other 'political activity': contacting MP, signing petition

6.2. Is there a crisis of participation in the UK?

6.2.1. YES -election turnout has fallen: 1950s: 84%, 2001: 59% -referenda turnout is poor: AV vote: turnout 42% -party membership is low: 1950s: 10% 2010: 1% -general disengagement with politics: people become cynical eg due to 2009 MPs Expenses scandal

6.2.2. NO -most people vote and turnout is rising: risen in 3 elections in a row (2005-2015) -pressure group membership is growing: young people join to get things done quicker ie NUS has over 7 million members, more than all parties combined -some political parties are growing: ie Labour membership over 600 000, SN membership over 100 000 -people get involved in different ways: eg petitions, blogging.

6.3. How the crisis of participation can be tackled

6.3.1. 1. Making voting easier: more postal votes, polling stations in supermarkets, elections at the weekends

6.3.2. 2. Compulsory voting: eg Australia For: -increased participation -greater legitimacy: eg David Cameron was chosen by 25% of British population -strong social justice: government would have to listen to those who don't normall vote Against: -abuse of freedom -cosmetic democracy: reasons why people don't vote won't be solved -worthless votes

6.3.3. 3. Reducing voting age to 16: eg Brazil. In 2014 Scottish referenda, 16 and 17 year olds could vote. 80% registered to. For: -responsibilities without rights -youth interests ignored: eg EMA abolished -irrational cut-off age Against: -immature votes -preserving childhood -undermining turnout

6.3.4. 4. eVoting For: -makes voting easier -more information and consultation -encourage greater youth involvement Against: -electoral malpractice eg fraud -virtual democracy: no physical participation -digital divide: old and poor less equiped

6.3.5. 5. changing the electoral system

6.3.6. 6. greater use of referenda