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Do pressure groups enhance democracy?

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Do pressure groups enhance democracy? Supporters of pressure groups claim that they enhance pluralism in our democracy and make our democratic system much more effective as a result. However some political scientists claim that many organised groups can undermine the policy making process since they are dominated by people with vested interests concerned only to improve the relative position of certain groups within society. Too many groups are undemocratically organised - power can reside with people with little or no claim to democratic legitimacy Groups have non-legitimate power because they are un-elected Oligarchic power structures - internal democracy may be lacking in many groups providing only weak direct accountability Membership of groups is often drawn from a narrow middle-class elite There is an unequal distribution of resources and influence between groups. ...read more.


A pressure group is an organised group that seeks to influence government (public) policy or protect or advance a particular cause or interest. Groups may promote a specific issue and raise it up the political agenda or they may have more general political and ideological objectives in mind when they campaign. Pressure groups operate at Local Sub National (Regional) National International level (including European Union) Functions of pressure groups Pressure groups are a vital part of a healthy democracy. Indeed the sustained and rapid expansion of pressure group activity and involvement in the political process is often heralded as a sign of growing political involvement among many thousands of people. Among the role played by pressure groups, large and small, we can identify the following: Pressure groups Promote discussion and debate ...read more.


They act as a check and balance to the power of executive government An illustration of the policy-making process is shown in the chart above. Groups can become involved in influencing and shaping public policy at many different points. For example, groups can seek to raise issues up the political agenda. This might speed up a process of political reform that might already be in the minds of the government or the opposition. Groups can be brought into the consultative process (see the distinction between insider and outside pressure groups) and may try to have an impact when a bill reaches the stage of Parliamentary drafting, debate and amendment. Finally as mentioned above, many groups are actively involved in implementing political decisions and evaluating their relative success or failure. ...read more.

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