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12 Cards in this Set

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Define democratic legitimacy and outline two ways it is achieved

It is the rightful use of, or exercise of, power, which has been gained or operates through accepted democratic channels. It can be seen to operate in direct or representative democracies. It can be achieved through success in elections, when a majority vote in the legislature gives you democratic legitimacy to rule. For example, in the 1997 election, Labour got 43.2% of the vote, which was the largest % compared to the party, so they had a legitimate basis on which they could rule and enforce their mandate, which they won the election on. Another way of achieving democratic legitimacy is through the use of referendums. If the majority of the public vote in a referendum for something, this result gives this view democratic legitimacy and therefore had to be listened to. For example, the 2016 EU referendum gave democratic legitimacy to the publics want to leave the EU, and the UK is now set to leave

Using an example, define direct democracy

It is a system when the public make decisions for themselves, others do not act on behalf of them. Decisions are reached on a majoritarian basis. The process of decision making is continuous and perpetual. It is also unmediated as there is no separate class of professional politicians. For example, in Ancient Athens, the method of government was mass meetings when all citizens met and made policy together in one room

Define representative democracy

It is a limited and indirect form of democracy. It operates through the ability of representatives to speak for, or act on behalf of, the people. At the core of a representative democracy is the process through which representatives are chosen and can be removed. Representative democracy usually operates through the mechanism of elections. Its effectiveness is based on the extent to which the electoral process gives the people control over government. An example is the UK

What are the main features of representative democracy?

Popular participation is indirect, mediated and limited. It is indirect as the public don't exercise power themselves. Instead, they choose, usually by election, who will rule on their behalf. It is mediated because the people are linked to the government through representative institutions. For example, through Parliament the public elect MP's and ultimately the PM to act on their behalf in legislation. Finally, it is limited because popular participation is infrequent and brief, being restricted to the act of voting every few years. The fixed term Parliament Act ensures elections only take place once every five years

Define liberal democracy

A liberal democracy is a representative democracy, plus limited government. As well as having all the elements that give government legitimacy, such as universal suffrage and regular fair elections, the government itself acts according to the rule of law, and the rights of the minority are not suppressed from the tyranny of the majority, with a particular focus on individual freedom and rights. In a liberal democracy, the government must, like the public, obey the laws of the land. Liberal democracy is a broad idea which encompasses a range of different democratic forms, depending on the balance between democracy and freedom. The UK is an example of a liberal democracy

Define direct democracy

Direct democracy is a form of democracy that is based on the direct, unmediated and continuous participation of citizens in the tasks of government. It is direct i that people make policy decisions themselves: they do not merely choose who will rule on their behalf. It is unmediated as the people are the government: there is no separate class of professional politicians. Popular participation is continuous as people engage in politics on a regular and ongoing basis. All decisions are made by the people. Historical examples include Ancient Athens, where there was governance through mass meeting, and the Paris Commune in 1871. The most common form of direct democracy is the use of referendums, as a supplementary feature of representative democracy

What is meant by legitimacy?

Legitimacy means rightfulness. It can be seen as an approval term which may sanction political behavior or conduct. It confers authority on an action, distinguishing between power and authority: authority is power cloaked in legitimacy. Political legitimacy stems from two sources. Firstly, it stems from below, through the consent of the public, usually from regular and competitive elections. For example the results of an election may extendlegitimacy to a new government, basing their mandate on the content of asuccessful manifesto. Secondly, it is based on rule governed behavior, achieved through the existence of a constitution. For instance the former PM Gordon Browninitially claimed legitimacy to continue as PM after the last general electionresults as the constitution conferred the legitimacy to stay in post until thetime a new government could be formed with Nick Clegg and DavidCameron. Legitimacy is associated with political stability and by contrast, schemes seen as illegitimate tend to foster instability and disorder

Apart from voting in elections and referendums, describe two ways of participating in politics

Joining a pressure group covers a range of activities from simply offering donations to joining protests and campaigns. They give a political voice to minorities that are ignored by the majoritarian parliamentary system. While turnout in elections is falling, the membership of pressure groups has been steadily rising since the 1960's. An example is the Animal Liberation Front, who organise many campaign protests and marches. Another method of participation is joining a political party, through which you can simply be a donor or fund raiser, can comment on party or even attend party conferences

Outline the key features of a referendum

-They are a popular vote on an issue of public policy

-They are examples of direct democracy

-They may either be binding or advisory

-In the UK, they are typically advisory because of the principle of parliamentary sovereignty

-Another feature is the fact they focus on specific issues, rather than a broad set of policies

How does a referendum differ from an election?

A referendum does not secure representation of officials, whereas elections provide a mechanism to place officials in representative posts. A referendum is normally concerned with single issues and has a narrow remit compared with elections which provide a mechanism to secure government mandate on a wide variety of issues.The results of a referendum can be seen as consultative, whereas in the UK, elections are seen as binding and final. Referendums are held with the permission of the government or Parliament, whereas in the UK elections have to be held by law at certain times. Referendums are seen as deriving from direct democracy whereas elections are seen as an integral component of representative democracy

Define democratic legitimacy and outline one way in which it is achieved

Democratic legitimacy is the accepted right to exercise and use power. When it has been achieved through a democratic route it is conferred by the people and also through the accepted political framework of the state. It can be achieved through elections. This can be a general, local, devolved or European election. For example, in the UK, a general election is the main route through which a prime minister can achieve democratic legitimacy to rule the country, as the public have legitimised their role by voting for them. For example, in the 1997 election, Labour got 43.2% of the vote, which was the largest % compared to the party, so they had a legitimate basis on which they could rule and enforce their mandate, which they won the election on.

Outline two features of the UK's system of parliamentary democracy

-The government secures its authority normally from a majority of MP's in the Commons. This is done through the electoral system of FPTP, in which there are 650 constituencies, each having an MP. To choose this one MP, the constituents choose between political parties: for example, the Labour Party or the Conservative party. The party which gets the majority of votes in a constituency then sends that person to be an MP in parliament. Whichever party has the most MP's in the Commons is the ruling party.

-These elections normally take place within a five year window. In theory, the PM could have called an election with permission from the monarch at his or her choosing. But, this has been modified under the Coalitions agreement to set a fixed-term Parliament law for the current session