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Are pressure groups a threat to the democratic process in the United Kingdom?

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Introduction

Are pressure groups a threat to the democratic process in the United Kingdom? Pressure groups, are un-elected by the general public, yet they are a part of the political, and some could argue, the democratic process in the United Kingdom. Pressure groups are normally single-issue groups, or they claim to represent the interest of a section of society or organisations. Political parties by their very nature cannot hope to be experts on all areas of policy and issues, and therefore they have to consult with think tanks and/or pressure groups. For instance, whilst considering their policies on the environment, a political party may ask the views and opinions of the RSPB, friends of the Earth, Green peace or a particular university or think-tank. Pressure groups exist to influence government policy over the area or areas that concern that pressure group. There are two main systems that can exist where pressure groups are concerned. These are pluralism and corporatism. British pressure groups fit in a the description of a Liberal sub-group of corporatism, there being a mixture of groups that have weak or no links to government and themselves (these tend to be groups such as the Animal Liberation front, and other, more radical environmental groups) and interest groups such as trade unions and the CBI. The position of pressure groups in the democratic process within the United Kingdom is intriguing. ...read more.

Middle

or attending meetings, be they public or group meetings, and demonstrations. The effective groups normally have a committed membership, that is ready and eager to expand, and so be a mixture of the two types of membership. A group's access to government is another important influence on the effectiveness of pressure groups, they seek to change the situation in the country, be it social or political, however, both normally can only be rectified by working with or persuading the government, access is critical, if the government chooses to ignore a pressure group, it is very hard, but not impossible to effect change and influence. The organisation of pressure groups is crucial, if they have a corporate structure; it is more flexible and able to change position in the face of a rapidly changing situation. Whereas pressure groups whose decision making process is membership based, means that the group can't be as flexible, but it can claim to represent the views of its membership. Having professionals, such as leading scientists, doctors, civil servants, captains of industry, the aristocracy, and MPs as prominent members of a pressure group, can increase its standing in the eyes of the public and those in power. Resources is key to any pressure groups effectiveness, if they have a large amount of money as a result of donations, they can take their campaigning to a national or even international level. ...read more.

Conclusion

Thus it can be argued that the will of the majority is by-passed by the ability of pressure groups to influence the political system. This process can be seen as anti-democratic, and the will of the majority may be abandoned in order to please pressure groups. A pluralistic view of pressure groups sees them as enhancing the democratic process. Pressure groups, it is argued, supply useful information for the government, keep it aware of the wishes of the people, and enhance the liberal democratic principles of political competion, with the result that a tolerant and open socitety will be created where an over-riding objective is the establishment of widespread concensus. The competion between pressure groups, it is argued, ensures that no permannet minority is created. The assumption is that the total of the opinions expressed by pressure groups, expresses the total of public opinion. The number of conflicting voices that reach the government may seem endless, but, in terms of a pluralistic rather than a coporatist system, it is still the government that has to decide between the competing groups and that has the final say over decision making. Pressure groups are an integral part of the polictal process in the untied kingdom, and the encorage public participation and the ability to freely express opinions and views, features of a democratic process, it would be unwise to say that they are a threat to the democratic process, since it was the democratic process that created them. Paul Frame 12 LQM. ...read more.

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