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When The Arguments For and Against Have Been Taken Into Account, It Is Clear That Incresingly, Pluralistic Society Pressure Groups are A Supplement To Democracy. How True Is This?

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Introduction

When The Arguments For and Against Have Been Taken Into Account, It Is Clear That Incresingly, Pluralistic Society Pressure Groups are A Supplement To Democracy. How True Is This? This essay will consider the main arguments both for and against pressure groups being a supplement to democracy and assess the extent to which they do serve as a supplement to democracy in today's increasing pluralistic society. The government has always had to deal with groups in society but over the last two centuries pressure groups have become an indispensable feature of the British political system, as these groupings have more effectively organized themselves in response to society's increasing complexity and the increasing government intervention in more areas of life. E.g. the committee for effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed in 1787. Society has also generally become more pluralistic and more aware of rights, which altogether, has served as a stimulus for the increasing relative importance of pressure groups. Far more citizens of the UK are now members of pressure groups than political parties. Broadly speaking, a pressure group may be defined as an organisation that seeks to influence, counteract or reverse government policy, without itself seeking to govern. "Pressure groups exist as conduits of political activity and serve the function of organizing and transmitting political pressure from the pluralistic mass of society into the process of central government." ...read more.

Middle

Governments can't effectively deal with all issues. Due to the increasing complexity and growth of government areas, it is just short of impossible to expect the government to have expertise in all the areas they work in. Pressure groups supplement democracy through relations with political parties in that they provide a source of specialist knowledge/advise to the government as pressure groups are usually concerned with a single issue or a narrow policy area so have the ability to develop expert knowledge of that issue/area. The argument for the existence of a democratic deficit is also due to the fact that currently, the elected representatives may not support the views of minorities. Pressure groups fill this void as they ensure that decision makers hear a group's view - that is pressure groups strive to defend the interests of minorities, particularly those connected with parties not in government. This is a particularly important function of pressure groups as a supplement to democracy because it is the view of the majority, which has a tendency to prevail. This so called 'tyranny of the majority' means that without a system including pressure groups as a supplement to democracy, it would be difficult for the rights of the minority to be protected. Pressure groups aid the dispersal of power away from the centralized legislative and executive institutions towards the people who are actually affected by the decisions. ...read more.

Conclusion

I believe that pressure groups are a permanent, vital part of the political process and partially contribute to overcoming the immense democratic deficit. Despite the fact that some pressure groups are labelled largely oligarchic in practice, in most organisations, I believe that this is a natural outcome of the increasing size and complexity. E.g. I deem it extremely impractical - if not virtually impossible for the elected officials of a professional body such as the Law Society to effectively speak or act on behalf of all of its thousands and thousands of members as there are bound to be conflicting opinions of the members of an organization of such a large scale. Also with respect to the argument that pressure groups limit parliamentary activities I do agree that it contributes, but hasten re-state that parliamentary sovereignty the UK has been suffering constant erosions, from the impact of the EU to the huge parliamentary majorities being gained (effectively allowing the government to ignore even sizeable rebellions in parliament) meaning that in reality parliaments role as the supreme legislative body has and will continue to diminish with or without the existence of pressure groups. In accordance with the arguments put across earlier in this essay, I think that pressure groups are an indispensable supplement to democracy as although there are arguments to the contrary, there are more and weightier arguments for. ...read more.

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