Is Parliament representative?

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Diggers Rogers ‘G’

Is parliament representative?        

Every day, the members of the houses of parliament face many tough decisions to be me made on the behalf of the public, but its not always clear how much the public is being represented in parliament and how much say they actually have. I believe that parliament is very representative and there are many points to back up this statement. However, there are also many points and arguments contrary to this statement.

Firstly, I think that parliament shows many key elements of being a representative system and these are not just found in the decision making process, but also we can see the representation in the elective process as well. In the free and fair elections that we now see today where the voting act ensures that almost all people have the right to cast one vote, which shows that no single group of people are over-represented. What’s more the electorate are free to have a range of choices of parties and also have a wide choice of mp’s. This range of parties to choice from also gives a decent coverage of views as well with a large number of 50 parties to choose from. Parliament is representative in the fact that there are 650 mp’s that are elected in a constituency, each of which represents about that same number of people. These mp’s do not only serve the interest of the electorate that voted for him/her but the serve the interests of all of their constituents; as the constituents vote via a private ballot and the mp does not know which constituents voted for them. On November 11th 1999 the royal assent passed the ‘house of lords act 1999’ which made the system of bill making more representative by removing several hundred members who had  inherited their seats. As a result of this act the majority of the members of the House of Lords are now life peers, who appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited. Moreover, the voting system used in the UK is First Past The Post (FPTP) which means that usually the most popular party will always form a government. As there is a large imbalance of men to women in the houses of commons, parties have sought to address this gender imbalance and make the commons more representative. For example, the labour party have introduced all women shortlists and some labour constituencies are required to select required to select their parliamentary candidate from a list consisting only of women. Finally, parliament has shown itself to responding to public opinion for example; the snowdrop campaign in Dunblane in 1996 where the campaign gained 750,000 signatures in petition against the private ownership of handguns throughout the UK. The Blair government responded with firearms act 1997.

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On the other hand, there is a strong argument that criticises parliament for not being representative enough. Firstly, simply by looking at government turnout, one can see that there is a clear problem with representation in the UK; since 1970, no government has gained more than 45% of the vote. In 2005 labour gained a 66 seat majority with only 35.3% of the vote. What’s more, turnout in 2005 was 61.3%, so the government in power only gained 21.6% of the entire electorate. Not a single EU state has a government with a lower vote share. An even more ...

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