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45 Cards in this Set

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Define Legitimacy

Legitimacy refers to the right of an individual or body to be recognised and to have the right to exercise power. In democratic countries, this is normally converyed through election.

Define Power

Power refersto the ability of an individual or body to force others to do something they might otherwise not do.

What are the 3 levels of power?

Coercion: force, often physical force

Political Power: the use of rewards and sanctions, legal authority and persuasion

Influence: means being able to affect how others act/think without using force.

What is authority? What are the 3 possible sources of authority?

Authority means the 'right to exercise power.' The 3 possible sources are:

Tradition: because power has been exercised for a long time and has been accepted for many years.

Election: power can be exercised if an individual/party has been elected.

Charisma: a person develops authority through the force of their personality and their ability to inspire a following.

What is consent and how can it be conferred?

Consent refers to evidence that the people agree to be governed in a particular way/particular government. It can be conferred by:

- Free elections, good turnout in free elections, lack of popular dissent, clear demonstrations of support for the government, referendum to adopt a particular constitution.

What rights do citizens enjoy?

A right to vote, to stand for office, to be granted a fair trial if accused of a crime, to be treated equally by the law, and to be guaranteed justice.

What civil liberties do citizens have?

Freedom of expression, of movement, of thought, of association.

What duties/obligations do citizens have?

To obey the law, pay taxes, perhaps defend the country.

What is active citizenship?

Developed in the 1990s, this is a principle suggesting that political participation is a duty for citizens. Examples could range from voluntary work to joining a political party.

Define democracy?

Any system of government where the people have access to independent information and are able to influence government decisions. Also implies that government makes itself accountable to the people. Two main forms: representative and direct.

What are some features of a modern democracy?

- peaceful transition of power from one government to the next

- free and fair, regular elections

- open access to independent information, including free press and other media

- government should be accountable to the people and representative institutions

- high degree of freedom for individuals/groups

- different political ideologies/beliefs are tolerated

- all equal under the law

- government acts in the broad interests of the people

What is direct democracy?

- people make decisions for themselves, usually through referendums

- people are directly consulted on political decisions (consultative decisions)

- people may take the initiative in creating political change (i.e. popular avtion provokes a political decision)

- e.g. referendums in the UK, initiatives in the USA and Switzerland

What is representative democracy?

- the people elect representatives

- decision making is delegated to representatives

- political parties represent differnt political views

- associations/pressure groups represent different sections of society/interests/causes

- representative assemblies express the will of the people and sections of society

What are 3 types of representation?

- Burkean representation: representatives should use their own judgement rather than only following the wishes of their constituency/party.

- Delegation: a representative should follow very closely the wishes of those who have elected them.

- Party representation: means that if a representative is a member of a party, they are expected to support and vote for the known policies of that party.

How does representation operate in the UK?

- representation operates through MPs, they represent individual constituents/whole constituencies/sectional interests/causes/the national interest.

- Most MPs, however, represent their party and its electoral manifesto.

- Parties have a representative function. They represent both sections of society and particular political views.

- Pressure groups represent interests and causes

- The House of Commons as a whole can represent the national interest

- The House of Lords is a vehicle for representation as many peers represent sections of society and prominent causes

Define parliamentary democracy

This is a form of liberal democracy where a parliament or elected assembly is the key institution. It means that parliament is the source of political power. Also means that parliament makes government accountable and that government is a part of parliament. Implie that parliament is the main vehicle for representation.

What is a pluralist democracy?

- Multiple parties and political association are allowed to operate.

- Different political beliefs are tolerated and allowed to flourish.

- There are many sources of independent information and opinion through the media.

- Power is dispersed among different individuals, bodies and institutions, rather than being concentrated in one or a few locations.

What is a liberal democracy?

Alongside all the general features of a democracy, a liberal democracy also has added features:

- respect and protection for individual liberties

- a strong constitution limiting the powers of government

- government features strong internal checks and balances

- high level of political toleration

- e.g. Germany

Advantages of representative democracy

- Most people don't have the time to be continually involved in politics, so elected representatives can act on their behalf

- representatives could have more experience, knowledge and expertise

- representatives can be held accountable for decisions, the whole of the population cannot

- demands of the people might be incoherent and contradictory. Representatives can 'aggregate' i.e. convert incoherent demands to coherent political programmes

- people react emotionally. representatives can be more rational.

- representatives can educate the public about political issues

- different sections of society and various causes/beliefs can be represented

Advantages of direct democracy and referendums

- important decisions can be strengthened if they receive the direct consent of the people. referendums give decisions legitimacy

- referendums/direct consultation can educate the public about political issues

- people can participate more directly, this improves engagement with politics, and may strengthen positive citizenship

- important constitutional change can be essentially 'entrenched' through a referendum

- when a government itself is divided, referendums can solve the issue

define referendums

the people are invited, on a national/regional/local basis, to vote on a key political issue, usually of a constitutional nature. Simple question, yes/no answer. Results are not legally binding in the UK, but Parliament would never ignore a result.

Disadvantages of representative democracy

- difficult to make representatives accountable between elections

- representatives might ignore/distort the demands of the people to suit their own political advantage

- reps might just follow the party line rather than represent their constituents accurately

- could result in too much political conflict which can only be resolved by direct democracy

- the idea of an electoral mandate is flawed, voters are only able to accept/reject an entire manifesto rather than express preferences between policies

Disadvantages of direct democracy and referendums

- Issues might be too complex for the average voter to understand

- People might vote in an emotional/irrational way

- Too many referendums could = voter fatigue = low turnout

- Voters might start to lose respect for representative institutions

- Tyranny of the majority

- Low turnout = lacks legitimacy

- Close result = unsatisfactory outcome

When have referendums been used in the UK to solve an issue where the government is split?

1975 - referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Community (Yes)

2011 - referendum on whether the UK should adopt AV as an electoral system (No)

When have referendums been used in the UK to decide constitutional change which would alter how people are governed?

1998 - referendum in London on whether to adopt an elected mayor. (Yes)

2004 - referendum in northeast England on whether to adopt an elected regional assembly (No)

When have referendums been used in the UK to entrench important constitutional change?

1997 - referendum on whether to introduce devolved government in Sctoland (Yes)

1997 - referendum on whether to introduce an assembly in Wales (Yes)

When have referendums been used in the UK to specially secure popular consent?

1998 - referendum in Northern Ireland to approve the Good Friday Agreement, designed to introduce devolved government and end inter-community conflict (Yes).

Compare direct and representative democracy

- Direct democracy tends to operate in connection with constitutional changes and reforms, whereas representative democracy concerns the day to day running of the country.

- Representative considers various different interests in society and is more pluralistic. Direct democracy only considers the will of the majority.

- Representatives are accountable for their decisions, while the people cannot be accountable to themselves.

- Referendums can be seen as more legitimate than decisions made by representative institutions.

How can UK citizens participate in politics?

- voting in elections

- voting in referendums

- taking part in political consultation processes

- being a member/supporter of a pressure group

- being a pressure group activist

- joining a political party

- becoming an activist in a political party

- standing for public office

What is some evidence of a decline in political participation?

Turnout in elections is low.

- 2010 gen election 65.1%, 2015 gen election 66.1%

- 2012 police and crime commisioner election 15.1%

Referendum turnout is quite low

- 1998 elected mayor in London 34.1%

- 2011 AV electoral system 42.2%

Partisan delalignment

Lower party memberships (only around 1% of the population)

What are some methods of increasing political participation? (4)

- Compulsory voting

- Votes at 16

- Citizenship education

- E-democracy

Arguments for/against compulsoey voting

FOR: it increases turnout, forces people to think about politics, people become used to voting, results have more legitimacy

AGAINST: abuses people's freedom, results could be seen as artificial, costly to enforce, cannot solve the problem of apathy

Arguments for/against votes at 16

FOR: makes the young politically aware, improves the level of identification with politics, makes political education more relevant

AGAINST: 16 year olds are too young, they might not vote, parties could distort policies to attract them

Arguments for/against citizenship education

FOR: improves political knowledge, encourages engagement with politics

AGAINST: education is expensive, may not create genuine interest

Arguments for/against e-democracy

FOR: provides greater access to politics for citizens, can promote a more direct form of democracy. might increase electoral turnout, the internet provides a vast source of independent political information

AGAINST: vulnerable to fraud and hacking, illicit/false info can easily spread, those without technical knowldge are excluded

Evidence of increasing political participation

- pressure groups are growing in number and membership (environmental groups, old age campaigners)

- increasing use of campaigning through social media (e.g. against sale of national forest)

- growth in examples of direct action (anti-tuition fees campaign)

Arguments that the UK is DEMOCRATIC

- regular, free elections

- free media, many sources of independent sources of political info

- democratic institutions (local councils, devolved assemblies, Parliament...)

- freedom to vote/stand for office/ form political parties/other political associations

- government is continually accountable to parliament

- referendums held sometimes to solve important political issues

- a variety of parties and political associations are allowed to flourish

- freedom/equality/rights are protected by the ECHR, parliamentary statutes, common law

- independent judiciary safeguarding the rule of law

- equality under the law

- Freedom of Information Act

Arguments that the UK is UNDEMOCRATIC

- Unelected institutions (House of Lords, Monarchy...)

- Elections aren't fair? (FPTP)

- Govts elected on a minority of the vote

- PM has arbitrary, prerogrative powers

- No entrenched constitution (uncertain distribution of powers)

- parliamentary sovereignty = rights and liberties are inadequately protected

- political participation is declining

- growing degree of political disengagement

Methods to improve UK democracy (6)

- Replacing the monarchy with an elected head of state

- introducing an elected 2nd chamber

- reforming the electoral system

- increased use of referendums

- inctroducing a codified constitution

- decentralising the political system

Arguments for/against replacing the monarchy with an elected head of state

FOR: increase the democratic legitimacy of the head of state, head of state = democratically accountable, would be able to settle political deadlocks, could increase popular political engagement.

AGAINST: might destabilise politics, could give too much power to the governing party, loss of an important historical institution

Arguments for/against introducing an elected second chamber

FOR: increased legitimacy, would be an effective check on government power.

AGAINST: might be less independent, might check government excessively, might challenge the authority of the Commons.

Arguments for/against reforming the electoral system

FOR: would be fairer and give the electorate more choice and less wasted votes, HOC would be more representative, increased legitimacy of MPs and government, would probably reflect the pluralistic nature of politics more accurately.

AGAINST: PR removes the MP-constituency link, multiparty govts = more unstable, unpredicatable consquences, difficult to accept a new system.

Arguments for/against increased use of referendums

FOR: increased political awareness, purer form of democracy, better political education, increased political participation

AGAINST: too many votes = voter fatigue and low turnouts, the electorate might find many issues to complex to understand, tyranny of the majority, voters unduly influenced by emotional and irrational appeals, might lose more respect for institutions

Arguments for/against a codified constitution

For: might stop drift of excessive power to govt and PM, citizens more aware of how systems work, more public engagement, rights and freedoms better protected

Against: flexibility lost, destroy many political traditions and therefore reduce public attachment to politics, too much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable judges

Arguments for/against decentralising the political system

For: local/regional govts are on a smaller scale and therefore are seen as more democratic, govt = less remote, less tight party control over politics, strengthen local communities, curbing the growing power of central government

Against: more variable state provision, people might take local and regional govt less seriously = lower voter turnout, tensions between central/local govt could increase.