• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent would the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐To what extent would the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK? Between 1973 and 2004, there have only been ten referendums. Referendums are used by government to get a clear opinion from the public. The public answer a question from the government with either yes or no. This ?yes or no? system works well because it does not overload the public with information; it?s a simple yes or no. Currently, referendums are used on issues such as whether we should stay in the EU. A wider use of referendums would improve democracy in the UK because of the bigger chance that citizens are given to cast their vote on issues that will affect them and their country. The use of referendums has been limited to issues regarding the break-up of the UK, independence of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and regional issues. If referendums were more widely used on issues regarding education, health and transport, you would be giving voters a greater opportunity for involvement, and give the government a much better and more accurate idea on what the public think. ...read more.


In these situations, surely the government should use referendums to get a straightforward answer, and ensure they work as closely to the electorate as possible. However, a greater use of referendums would eventually lead to apathy amongst the electorate. It is highly unlikely that you will receive 100% turnout on any referendum. Some referendums address issues of certain regions, such as the proposals for the Greater London Authority in 1998 and the regional assembly of North East England 2004. These produce low turnouts because they predominantly affect a minority of people and not the country as a whole. Low turnouts could go against the principles of democracy, as it is not reflecting the opinion of 100% of the electorate and lacks legitimacy. Turnout is falling in general elections alone and if there were more referendums the public would have a worse attitude towards voting. David Butler of Nuffield College, Oxford University raised the point that referendums can be used as a tactical device by the current government, when they are too worried about judgement on their own decisions or when they are confident that they will win it. ...read more.


To conclude, I feel that Referendums are currently used on the wrong issues, and are used by the current government to avoid giving opinions on things they?d rather keep quiet about, like the troubles in Northern Ireland and Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I think that they should only be used when there is a significant clash (large protests and excessive public concern) on Governmental decisions. The government could be forced to take a certain amount of referendums every five years, but this would probably just encourage them to use them at times that suit them and on unnecessary issues. I believe that there should not be a larger quantity of referendums, but they should cover a broader area of government. Perhaps referendums could be implemented when an e-petition has reached 5,000,000 signatures. This would be a good system because it would show a high desire for the referendum and that the turnout is likely to be high. In theory it may be down to the government to decide which issues are to be given a referendum, but in practice, this may not be the case. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level United Kingdom section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level United Kingdom essays

  1. How can The UK improve voting turnout in elections?

    The problem of this is that the Parties in England do not have that big budget as the American. But in my opinion there is still an improvement possibly in the media presentation of parties. And not only are the TV with the Internet more people to get through to.

  2. How, and with what success, have governments attempted to improve the provision of health ...

    be put in to make a long term difference as it has to be an ongoing commitment of a stable amount of money placed in. The modernisation board also found difficulties with limited capacity of funds, old buildings and out of date equipment thus one can say that in the

  1. Define Direct Democracy. What are the advantages and disadvantages of referendums?

    due to the fact that the electorate could make the decisions themselves, as opposed to have others make it for them. Referendums will help to create the sense of a participatory democracy, giving people real power and influence on important social and political issues.

  2. To what extent would the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK

    If there was a referendum then people would either choose no to a rise in tuition fees or for a rise in tuition fees. The fact that the government just implemented this rule on us is what made this topic controversial as in a democracy people should have a choice and should be able to have their say.

  1. Should referendums be widely used in the UK ?

    We expect modern democratic governments to protect minorities. Referendums leave them defenceless. This danger was recognised by liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill. Referendums that have been used recently is the 2004 North East England vote on if there should be an elected assembly for the North East region it produced 22.1% Yes vote and 77.9% No vote and

  2. The UK would benefit greatly from the wider use of referendums. Discuss.

    The Liberals would have been hopeful that the country would have voted ?yes.? Issues can be too complex to be voted on and resolved by the general public by those who do not take an active interest in politics.

  1. What Is A Referendum? Give Three Examples of UK Referendums. Evaluate the Main Arguments ...

    The first past the post voting system works to the detriment of the Lib Dems and they favour a system more proportionally representative.

  2. Apart from referendums, explain three ways in which democracy in the UK could be ...

    If one method gains more publicity than the other then there is a chance that they will be more successful. For example, when Fathers 4 Justice dressed as superheroes scaled a Foreign Office balcony overlooking Downing Street. This was remembered by people and gained plenty of public attention therefore; the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work