Chapter 1- Democracy and Participation Flashcards Preview

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'Rule by the people' or 'people power'. The term has its origins in the greek word dēmokratia. A union off demos (meaning the people) and kratos (meaning power)


What countries have a single party state and why is this an issue?

former East Germany, North Korea and the problem is that it is undemocratic


What is the issue with the term democracy?

The term demos can easily mean 'the mob' which means that it means a little more than 'mob rule' or 'anarchy'


What type of democracy is the UK?

Liberal Democracy or Representative


Liberal Democracy

Incorporates free and fair election with a belief in the importance of certain key rights and responsibilities.
- extend the right to vote widely among citizens
- guarantee freedom of speech
- allow people to assemble and petition for the redress of grievances


Totalitarian Democracy

Citizens of a given state are granted the right to vote but unable to choose between candidates representing the parties other than the one in power. It's a top down system.


Top down

Citizens are not allowed real input into the policy making process


Majoritarian democracy

Government is based on the majority support of those who inhabit a given territory.
- Potential to see minorities marginalised and excluded from the policy making process


Consensual democracy

Conscious effort to each out in a more inclusive way to all the groups within a given territory as opposed to carrying out the support of the majority


Parliamentary democracy

Executive part of government is drawn from elected legislature and accountable to it


Consultative or participatory democracy

Conventional representative democracy incorporates elements of direct democracy- public inquires, referendums, citizen assemblies or elements of e-democracy- they have a view to engage the broader citizenry in the policy making process


Pluralist democracy

System of government that encourages participation and allows free and fair competition between competing interests


Direct democracy

Origins in classical Athens 500BC where city-state's 40,000 free men had the right to attend assembly meetings at which certain policies or actions could be approved or rejected.
- Citizens are given a direct input into the decision-making process


New England 'town hall meetings'

Town hall meetings held in new England states such as Maine and Massachusetts


Representative democracy

Citizens elect individuals to represent them in a legislature and that such individuals are expected to represent the interests of their constituents until the following election. Once elected, they are free to legislate.


What did Edmund Burke say to his Bristol constituents in 1774?

'Your representative owes you not his industry only but his judgement' then he argued 'and he betrays you if he sacrifices it to your opinion'.


What is a tool of direct democracy that is often used?



Examples of referendum usage

- [1995] Eire, legalise divorce
- [23 June 2016] Eu Referndum


What did prime minister, Clement Attlee, describe referendums as?

'Tools of demagogues and dictators' and he concluded that it was a 'device so alien to our tradition'



Called by those in power when they wish to legitimise a certain course of action or when they are constitutionally required to hold a referendum due to the nature of proposed changes



Give ordinary citizens the opportunity to call a public ballot on a question of their own choosing, they collect a predetermined number of signatures on a petition and trigger a referendum


When are referendums used in the UK?

No formal list of circumstances in which referendums are legally required, it's been suggested that it provides a way of legitimising constitutional changes


What did the former prime minister Tony Blair remark in 1995?

In the case of major constitutional change, there is clearly a case for that decision to be taken by the British people


What are the five issues associated with referendums?

- Topic
- Wording
- Timing
- Funding
- Turnout


Topic and referendums

Government only likely to announce a referendum when they are certain of securing an outcome that they desire or direct interest of going to the people


What was the criticism that Harold Wilson received after his decision to hold a ballot over continued membership of the EEC in 1975?

His labour administration was deeply divided


How did Margaret Thatcher view the 1975 ballot on continued membership of the EEC?

'Sacrifice parliamentary sovereignty to political expediency'


Wording and referendums

Wording can often be constructed a certain response


Wording and referendums example

SNP's wording for the 2014 referendums on Scottish independence: Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?


Timing and referendums

When referendums are offered, scheduling them routinely delay until such a time that they believe they will secure their desired outcome. SNP


Funding and referendums

Difference in funding for example at the 1975 EEC referendum, it was said that the yes campaign outspent the 'no' camp y a ration of 3 to 1


What was the issue with the 1975 referendum and funding?

under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, referendums in the UK were to be state funded and each receiving a £600,000 public grant


Turnout and referendums

Turnout at referendums are low. The turnout between eleven referendums called by Westminster parliament between 1973 and 2011 averaged to just 54.1%amp;


When did the regional referendum that allowed directly elected mayor of London and a 25-member assembly take place?



Sum up the Mayor of Hartlepool case study

H'angus the Monkey was the mayor of Hartlepool in 2002. How could somebody that campaigned to give free bananas to school children be in charge of £106 million municipal budget. Referendum in November 2012 saw voters approve of abolishing H'angus te Monkey effective immediately from May 2013


Congestion Charge

Ken Livingstone, the first mayor of London, wanted to introduce congestion charges in Edinburgh (2005) and Manchester (2008)

- The money raised from the congestion charge would have paid for infrastructure improvements


What was the statistics for Edinburgh's congestion charge referendum?

Turnout- 61.7%
Yes- 25.6%
No- 74.4%


What was the statistics for Manchester's congestion charge referendum?

Turnout- 53.2%
Yes- 21.2%
No- 78.8%



A device that allows citizens to unseat an elected official before the end of their term in office


What are the issues associated with recalls?

- Undermines the principle of representative democracy


Example of a recall campaign

Recall Gray Davies Campaign was launched in California in February 2003
- Democrat governor was only weeks into his second term in office after having been convincingly re-elected previous November. Evidence that the campaign had been organised and funded by Republicans unhappy at his re-election.


Political Culture

Ideas, beliefs and attitudes that shape political behaviour within a given area. It describes the way in which citizens collectively view the political system as well as their status and role within it


What three characteristics describe UK politics?

- Homogeneity
- Consensus
- Deference



Belief that citizens share common heritage and identity; a sense of togetherness that transcended what divided them



UK citizens accept the basic rules of the game. Need for toleration, pragmatism, peaceful negotiation and compromise.



People defer to an elite that was regarded as being born to rule, natural willingness to accept an ingrained, class-based inequality and rigid social hierachy


Political Participation

Refers to the range of ways in which citizens can involve themselves in the political process



Right to vote as established by parliamentary statute. The vast majority of adult UK citizens have the right to vote


What act extended the franchise to citizens aged 18 or over?

Representation of the People Act (1969)


How many adults could vote in 1831?

5% of adults which represented 450,000 individuals from a population of around 25 million


How many adults could vote in 1969?

99% of adults which represented around 40 million individuals from a population of 58 million


When can you not vote in the parliamentary election?

- European union citizen from an EU country other than the UK or Ireland
- Member of HOL
- Convicted criminal serving custodial sentence
- Convicted of a corrupt or illegal electoral practice
- Suffering from severe mental illness



The percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot in a given election


General election turnout statistics (2005, 2010 and 2015)

2005: 61.4%
2010: 65.1%
2015: 66.1%


Why is low turnout an issue?

- Questions government's legitimacy
- Strength of electoral mandate


Example of low turnout and the issues

Labour Party secured a Commons majority of 65 with the support of only 35.2% of the 61.4% of eligible voters who turnout out to vote. Equivalent to 21.6% of the electorate



Legal right or authority to exercise power. Government claims legitimacy as a result of the mandate it secures at a general election



Right of the governing party to pursue the policies set out in its general election manifesto


Differential turnout

When the national turnout figure recorded at a given election masks differences in turnout by constituency or by region


Example of differential turnout

National turnout figure in 2010 was 65.1%,
- Turnout at East Renfrewshire 77.3%
- Turnout at Manchester 44.3%


What variables cause turnout to vary?

- age
- gender
- social class
- ethnicity


Turnout and age

[2010] 44% of 18-24 age category cast a ballot in compared to 76% turnout recorded for over 65s


Turnout and social class

[2010] 57% in the DE social classes cast a ballot compared to 76% in AB categories


What factors might account for variable turnout?

- Type of election
- Political apathy
- Hapathy
- Relative value of vote
- Electoral system in operation
- Role of mass media


Type of election

Voters more likely to vote when they value the institutions to which individuals are seeking to be elected. Relatively low levels of turnout witnessed at local elections


Political apathy or disengagement

POWER report suggest increasing number of votes were coming to the conclusion that elections made little difference especially as parties were converging ideologically



Proportion abstain as they are happy with the status quo and therefore do not feel the need to cast a ballot


Relative value of the vote

Safe seats less likely to vote than marginal


Electoral system in operation

Inclined to cast a ballot when they believe that their votes will count


Role of mass media

Media coverage can have an effect of stimulating turnout


Non- electoral participation methods

- Canvassing and leafleting
- Organising election events and fundraising activities
- Staffing campaign offices
- Letter writing
- Membership/involvement in a political party
- Engaging in a political protest or pressure group activity
- Debating politics


Participation crisis

View that declining levels of political participation in the UK threaten to undermine its democratic systems


Power Inquiry

An inquiry into the state of political participation in the UK initiated by Joseph Rowntree Trust and the main conclusion was that popular disillusionment with democratic institutions and the main political parties demanded immediate attention


What has the sharp decline in individual party membership in the last 30 years been matched by?

Steep rise in pressure group membership


Which pressure group had more members than the three main political parties combined in 2012?



What did Noreena Hertz remark in the Independent back in 2001?

"It's not about apathy": "while voting is waning alternative forms of political expression...are all on the rise"


What did Anthnoy Seldon, Blair's biographer, say in his 2009 book; Trust: How We Lost it and How to Get it Back?

He made links between the declining levels of public trust in formal politics and decline in party memberships


What has research demonstrated about individuals who have boycotted products for ethical reasons?

Rose from 4% (1984) to 31% (2000) with 28% admitting to have bought certain goods for political, ethical or environmental reasons in 2000


What is the issue with low levels of participation?

Undermine the legitimacy of political institutions and processes. Low electoral turnout brings the governing party's mandate into question


What did Paul Whiteley highlight in Politics Review in 2009?

The link between political participation and government effectiveness in 37 countries, it was shown that countries with higher levels of political participation are more likely to enjoy an effective government.


What class is less likely to participate directly in more conventional political activity?

Social classes C2 and DE less likely to participate directly in more conventional forms of political activities than classes AB and C1


How has there been attempts to tackle the issue of low turnout?

- Postal voting
Led to allegations of voter fraud and intimidation especially when there was a significant number of voters registered at the same address. Gained in terms of size and lost quality

-SMS voting (2000 and 2007)
similar criticisms

- Compulsory voting
Australia compulsory voting is a requirement is included in the Commonwealth Electoral Act (1918) which was amended in 1924 to make voting compulsory.

- Reducing the voting age
Young voters are statistically less likely to vote


What was the two key issues with compulsory voting in Australia?

- Donkey votes
preferential voting system, votes simply numbered 1,2,3,4 etc in order vertically down that it appears

- Informal votes
Ballots which are completed incorrectly. 2010 Australian elections 5.65% of ballots classified as informal


What has the POWER Report advocated to improve and address the flaws in UK democracy?

- Rebalancing power away from the executive and unaccountable bodies towards parliament and local government
- Introduction of greater responsiveness and choice into electoral and party systems
- Allowing citizens much more direct and focused say over political decisions and policies


What are the main features of UK democracy?

- Multi-level government where policies can in theory be developed and best placed to understand the needs of the people
- System of free and fair elections which incorporates a wide franchise and operating under a secret ballot
- Protection of basic rights and liberties under the rule of law
- Existence of wide range of political parties and pressure groups


Critique of UK democracy

- use of FPTP system at GE
- Failure to properly reform parliament
- Low levels of turnout and disillusionment,
- Rise of single-issue pressure groups
- Absence of complete separation of powers
- Transfer of government power away from elected bodies and towards unelected quangos
- absence of a properly drafted bill of rights incorporated within a codified and entrenched constitution


Democratic Audit (2012)

Recognised the progress that had been made some areas while areas whilst at the same time identifying rooms for improvement


Compare statistics between UK and Nordic

Turnout in parliamentary elections (2000s average)
UK: 60%
NO: 79%

Proportion of MPs who are women (2010)
UK: 22%
NO: 41%



The greater use of the internet, mobile phones and other electronic media as a means of enhancing the operation existing political institutions and processes, and encouraging greater political participation.


Citizen Jury

Panel of citizens convened to hear evidence and deliver their verdict on a government proposal or specific policy areas. Juries do not have a final say on a given policy as their feedback is considered by a panel of specialists and the politicians serving in government posts make the final decisions over policy

- Former president Gordon Brown was advocate for this as a means of enhancing political participation


Citizens; assemblies

Looks to involve a representative cross-section of the population in the policy-making process.
- involve a lot more people
- give more power to decide upon a particular course of action which can be put to a public vote through a referendum
- Politicians abstain from policy making process


What makes a good citizens' assembly?

- established from the outset that their findings will be put straight to a referendum without amendment or modification by government

- Assemblies seen as independent

- Assemblies seen as having the power to propose change