Are pressure groups a threat to the democratic process in the United Kingdom?
Pressure groups, are un-elected by the general public, yet they are a part of the political, and some could argue, the democratic process in the United Kingdom.
Pressure groups are normally single-issue groups, or they claim to represent the interest of a section of society or organisations.
Political parties by their very nature cannot hope to be experts on all areas of policy and issues, and therefore they have to consult with think tanks and/or pressure groups. For instance, whilst considering their policies on the environment, a political party may ask the views and opinions of the RSPB, friends of the Earth, Green peace or a particular university or think-tank. Pressure groups exist to influence government policy over the area or areas that concern that pressure group.
There are two main systems that can exist where pressure groups are concerned. These are pluralism and corporatism. British pressure groups fit in a the description of a Liberal sub-group of corporatism, there being a mixture of groups that have weak or no links to government and themselves (these tend to be groups such as the Animal Liberation front, and other, more radical environmental groups) and interest groups such as trade unions and the CBI.
The position of pressure groups in the democratic process within the United Kingdom is intriguing. Pressure groups rarely become active within the democratic process by way of seeking representation at a local and national government level.
Most pressure groups have some kind of internal democracy, but cause and episodic groups are likely to have a decentralised structure, taking decisions to the membership of the groups, where as corporatist groups will hold elections to committees that make decisions on behalf of the membership.