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"How democratic is the UK?"

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Introduction

Oliver Maltby Essay Question 1: Democracy "How democratic is the UK?" Democracy comes from the Greek word "demokratia" which when translated means "people rule". To decide whether or not the UK is truly democratic we have to see whether it follows the following criteria: Political toleration Multi-party competition A free press A constitutional commitment to abide by the results The ability to vote for representatives to fill offices that actually have some power. The UK follows this criterion therefore is a democratic system, and is one of the oldest in the world. However the Liberal Democrats argue that this system is unfair as is biased against them and exaggerates the support for the two larger parties. Despite this there are many positives to the UK's democratic system. Essentially in the UK there are only two "real" parties that are capable of being elected into a government, the Labour and Conservative parties, and possibly the Liberal Democrats as an influential party. In our democratic society if you do not vote for one of these three main parties then your vote has been effectively been "wasted", this brings me onto my first negative point concerning our democratic system. ...read more.

Middle

Despite the amount of people who can vote, only a small number actually do. This low voter turnout is almost a threat to the UK's democratic system as enthusiasm in the voting process is vital to sustain a good representative democracy. Voter turnout is measured by the percentage of eligible voters who cast their vote in elections for various parts of government. Image from http://www.tutor2u.net/ Turnout peaks at 82% in 1950 - but the long-term trend in voter participation has been downwards. By 1983, turnout was down to 72% - and despite an improvement in participation in both 1987 and 1992 - the last two general elections has seen a large drop in turnout. The overall level of turnout across the United Kingdom collapsed from 71% in 1997 to 59.3% in 2001. It could be argued that the UK is not truly democratic as only 60% of the eligible population voted, if the remaining 40% of the eligible population had voted then the whole outcome of the election might have been dramatically different. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though MP's have constituency buildings where the people can voice an opinion on an issue, the electorate plays no part in decision making, which means that although an MP is supposed to "be the voice of the people" in actual fact they don't as they themselves have the final choice in the decision making. Although the UK's Democracy has its problems, there is no better system; the only question that remains is how much democracy is required. A good example of "too much democracy" is the United States of America, the near perfect system of checks and balances where it is impossible for any one person to gain too much power. The American president, often referred to as the 'most powerful man in the world' can do little without the approval of the Senate. The result of this democratic constitution is that there is a certain amount of inefficiency. For example, after alcohol was banned in the United States in a post-war fervour, it took 14 years to get the resolution revoked, a demonstration of the checks and balances working to too greater effect. 1100 Words ...read more.

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