To what extent do Pressure groups undermine democracy?

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  1. To what extent do pressure groups undermine democracy?

Supporters of pressure groups claim that they enhance pluralism in our democracy and make our democratic system much more effective as a result. However some political scientists claim that many organized groups can undermine the policy making process since they are dominated by people with vested interests concerned only to improve the relative position of certain groups within society. Supporters of liberal democracy believe that its main elements make for a relatively effective and representative political system.

In liberal democracies, States represent the interests of societies as a whole rather than the interests of the minorities. Therefore, pressure groups are needed for the representation of citizens’ views on particular issues relating to their own personal well-being or their believes. As a result of the resources at their disposal, pressure groups can represent individuals more effectively than they could do themselves, a point which may be especially relevant to more disadvantaged individuals such as the poor or the disabled and to minority groupings such as immigrants. It is possible that pressure groups can address controversial issues which political parties might initially seek to avoid and likely also that as new issues reach the political agenda new pressure groups can be formed to address these issues.

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Pressure groups enable their members and supporters to participate more fully in the political process on a continuing basis between general elections and this is likely to enhance political understanding and thereby to strengthen support for the liberal democratic system as a whole. The existence of rival pressure groups for example supporting or opposing the increased use of nuclear power or the war in Iraq will help to ensure that both sides of these controversial issues can be fully debated. Pressure groups may also sometimes be able to provide governments with important information not otherwise available to them thereby improving ...

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