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What is the purpose of elections and do they guarantee a democracy?

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IP 10410 - Comparative Politics Coursework essay: "What is the purpose of elections and do they guarantee a democracy?" (1569 Words) Benjamin M. Unsworth (010800186) What is the purpose of elections and do they guarantee a democracy? The term 'democracy' derives from Greek, translating to "the rules of the people". However, in modern times the definition of 'democracy' has been expanded, to describe a (Liberal) philosophy that insists on the right and the capacity of a people, acting either directly or through representatives, to control their institutions for their own purposes. This ethos insists on the right and the capacity of a people, acting either directly or through representatives, to control their institutions for their own purposes and insists that necessary restraints be imposed only by the consent of the majority and that they conform to the principle of equality. The aim of elections must, therefore, be to form a polity as close as possible to this model. However, it is impossible to compose a totally pure democracy due to several constraints - not allowing convicted criminals in prison to vote is a common social constraint for example. ...read more.


It would be impossible though to use a pure national list system though, because if one political party took 3.7% of the vote, they can not be awarded with 3.7% of seats, as each seat is a whole number. This is why it is almost impossible to ensure a pure democracy, as if they were awarded 3% of the seats they would still not be represented fully according to voting, but if they were awarded 4% they would be over-represented. The only way to get around this is by using 'top-up' MPs, but this by its very nature is undemocratic - unelected representatives is a key feature of authoritarianism, not democracy. To try and counter this problem there is a proportional representation system which 'transfers' votes so that unelected representatives do not have to be used. The "Single transferable vote" system is based on multi-member constituencies, and each voter ranks candidates (1,2,3 etc.) and is based on quotas. In a five member constituency parties This system, however, would penalise independent candidates who can not take 2 seats, as they stand alone. As independents are the epitome of democracy - they can not be pulled into line by party whips and go against the interests of their constituents in favour of the party line - then this system is favourable against the whole ethos of democracy. ...read more.


deciding which electoral system to adopt, rather it must way up the costs and benefits of each different system, and choose whichever it attaches the most value to by the benefits presented by both/all the systems. Bibliography[BMU1] Clark, A. (1999) The Tories (Orion). Denver, D. (1989) Elections and Voting Behaviour in Britain (Philip Allen). Heath, A., Jowell, R. and Curtice, J. (1985) How Britain Votes (Oxford: Pergamon Press). Heath A., Jowell, R. and Curtice, J. (1987) 'Trendless Fluctuations: A Reply to Crewe', Political Studies, Vol. 35. Heath, A., Jowell, R., Curtice, J., Evans, G., Field, J. and Witherspoon, S. (1991) Understanding Political Change: The British Voter 1964-1987 (Oxford: Pergamon Press). Platt, S. and Smyth, G. (1994) Bite the Ballot In New Statesman & Society (29 April 1994) Roberts, D. (Ed.). (1995) British Politics in Focus (Causeway Press) i http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1181000/1181844.stm ii http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1938000/1938190.stm iii Clark, A. (1999) The Tories:433-34. iv See In Search of Stability in The Guardian, UK, December 24th 1999. This is available online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3944933,00.html. v Plant, R. (1999) Constitutional Reform:412-415. vi Roberts, D. (ed.). (1995) British Politics in Focus:346. vii See www.mori.com as at 18:32 21/04/02. viii Plant, R. (1999) Constitutional Reform:366. ix Plant, R. (1999) Constitutional Reform:289-91. x Plant, R. (1999) Constitutional Reform:396. ...read more.

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