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How successful was the Great Reform Act in rectifying the defects of the political system?

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Introduction

Rebecca Johnson How successful was the Great Reform Act in rectifying the defects of the political system? The Great Reform Act was not very successful in rectifying the defects of the political system. This is because it did not address most of the defects and the problems that it did consider were not fully addressed. This is because the government only wanted to address certain aspects of the political system to prevent revolution and not go too far at the same time. There were many defects in the political system prior to 1832, which needed to be rectified. These were, the franchise, because only 11% of adult men could vote and only 5% overall, there were many different franchises in the boroughs so some had high numbers of voters and some scarcely none at all. Rotten Boroughs with very few voters had MPs but the growing population in industrial towns meant that some did not have any representation. The franchise was granted to freeholders with a rental value of over 40 shillings. There were many different boroughs at this time and the number of people who had the franchise varied. ...read more.

Middle

Many of the Rotten boroughs, which were often more like pocket boroughs as they had a small population so it was easier to bribe the voters, were removed as figures show that in 1830 the number of boroughs was 447 and after the Act in 1832 the number of boroughs decreased to 399. On the other hand following the Act there were some problems that the Act did not consider in the slightest. On of these was that there was no Secret Ballot introduced, which caused voting to continue to be unfair. Despite the fact that overall 1 in 7 adult males whom were 30 or above could vote, the number of votes given to a particular place depended on the wealth of that place. For example England, which was very wealthy was given 1 in 5 of the votes, Scotland, which was the not very wealthy was given 1 in 8 people who could vote and finally Ireland, which was the poorest country at this time was given 1 in 20 people who could have the vote. This was because there were still many requirements for the vote such as the 40-shilling qualifying requirement and the poorer countries could not afford it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Half of the English boroughs with 3000 voters could still bribe, because there was no secret ballot. Nearly half the elections were still not contested and the Act could work in favour of the Working class. This was because the Act would allow the working class to bribe the middle class by threatening them; therefore people who did not have the vote put people who did have the vote under enormous pressure. In conclusion I can see that the Great Reform Act was not entirely successful in rectifying the defects of there political system because even though it did consider some of the defects in the political system before 1832, such as, the franchise, representation of towns and cities and the removal of the Rotten and Pocket boroughs, it did not address these defects to the full extent. Also some of the defects it didn't even consider such as the secret ballot. As a result it can be consummated that the Great Reform Act was not 'Great' because of the significance of it, as it did not achieve much. It was great because of the difficulties that were encountered in order to get it passed and the possibilities it left open in terms of political and social reforms for the near future. ...read more.

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