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Representative Democracy

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1 Representative Democracy
It was between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries (1600s -1800s) that democracy as a general principle began spreading across Europe and North America; however it was not the direct democracy from the Greek model of democracy, it was a new idea. There were practical and philosophical disadvantages to direct democracy.

2 Three disadvantages of Direct Democracy
Direct democracy is the rule of the majority, which means the minority groups are often ignored and outvoted. Therefore as direct democracy did not protect the minorities of society, a new form of democracy was needed to establish the voice of the minorities as well as the majority. Direct democracy requires the participation of everybody in person, in large populated areas this is not only impractical but also a logistical nightmare. Therefore a new version of democracy which required less movement was needed. Direct democracy expects people to make important, political decisions on their own; this is an unrealistic expectation for a population which, at the time, was largely illiterate and almost certainly poorly educated. Therefore a new model of democracy needed to be constructed which would allow lesser educated people to still have their say and understand what they were voting for. So, modified democracy was definitely desired across Europe and North America. This new model of democracy became known as representative democracy, whereby the population were represented by a minority of office holders who would interpret societies problems for them.

3 The nature of Representative Democracy
Representative democracy differs from direct democracy in that representatives, elected by the people, make political decisions rather than the people directly. The UK is largely considered to be a representative democracy. This is because representatives in the form of MPs are elected to represent a constituency. However, it is also referred to as a liberal democracy as citizens have rights that are protected by the constitution.

4 The advantages of Representative Democracy
It can be argued representative democracy better protects minorities as decisions are made with the interests of society as a whole in mind, rather than the will of the majority being implemented at the expense of the minority. Direct democracy can mean that decisions are made on an emotional basis, rather than a rational one. Representative democracy means that decisions are more likely to be rationally and by people who have a more extensive knowledge of the situation. Direct democracy has a tendency to give issues a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer which can be highly simplistic. Representative democracy allows for issues to be given more attention and for solutions to be more unique and complex than simply voting for or against them.

5 The British experience of the growth of Representative Democracy
1649 – 1653 Proceeding after the execution of King Charles I several attempt were made to govern Britain through a Parliament. This, however was not seen as a legitimate form of government because the system which was used to call the MPs to Parliament was not democratic. By 1653 this beginning form of representative democracy had crumbled and then collapsed, being replaced by the autocratic rule of Oliver Cromwell. 1688 King James II was replaced on the throne by the joint monarchy of William III and his wife, Mary, in the Glorious Revolution. The new monarchy and Parliament agreed on the Bill of Rights which transferred sovereignty over to Parliament meaning that all new laws passed, amended or removed had to go through Parliament. However, democratic legitimacy still eluded both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. 1689 The principles of representative democracy and how it would work with a limited monarchy was published by the English philosopher John Locke in his ‘Two Treatises of Government’.

6 The British experience of the growth of Representative Democracy
1832 The year of The Great Reform Act. This instigated the creation of parliamentary democracy as we know it today. The Great Reform Act introduced a regular, fairer system for electing the MPs and widened the electorate to include property-owning middle classes. 1830’s Over this 70 year time period the party system developed. Robert Peel ( ) evolved the Conservative Party; the Liberals were founded in the 1870s by William Gladstone ( ); Labour was begun in Party representation evolved as voting became increasingly focused on the affiliation the candidate had rather then their individual qualities or beliefs. 1884 Voting Rights were granted to the majority of the male population with the Third Reform Act. This enabled the House of Commons to be labelled as a legitimate form of government and so gave it superiority over the house of Lords which was unelected.

7 The British experience of the growth of Representative Democracy
1928 Britain was finally classed as a liberal democracy after introducing universal adult suffrage (voting for all men and women over the age of 21). 1945 The Labour Party published the first ever truly modern election manifesto which ensured its success at election with a clear programme of reform which had been approved by the electorate. That a manifesto existed meant the party had a mandate to follow that manifesto once elected. This meant that the representative idea of manifesto and mandate became pert of British politics. Manifestos continued to grow in detail and as such the mandate of elected parties is now much clearer than it was pre-1945.

8 Representative Democracy evolved through 3 main stages:
1. Burkean representation 2. Parliamentary representation 3. Party delegation

9 Burkean representation
This started at the end of the eighteenth century (late 1700s) with Edmund Burke (known as a Whig MP and writer, then later as a conservative). His ideas were focused around the idea that an elected MP should be able to use their own judgement as to what was best for those in their constituency rather than blindly following instructions from the voters.

10 Parliamentary representation
The unification of political parties in the nineteenth century (1800s) is combined with the ideas of Burke that representatives are expected to be independent; this created MPs who were expected to make judgement calls of their own, yet balance those with their constituents and their political party views on the matter. The mid-nineteenth century (mid-1800s) is often referred to as the ‘golden age of the British MP’. This is mainly because representatives were able to retain real influence over government policy because they were individuals within their party. This idea of ‘free votes’ still exists today and has been used when deciding matters such as abortion laws and public smoking bans.

11 Party delegation This evolved during the twentieth century (1900s).MPs gradually fell under more control of their parties as the parties grew more disciplined; the age of the independent MP more or less ended. MPs became delegates of their parties rather than individuals aligned with a party. This is justified in modern politics because voters read party information available when deciding who to vote for rather than the manifesto of the individual candidate. This means when an MP is elected now they are morally obligated to follow the party mandate which led to their election. For MPs who disagree with their party’s ideals on an issue are expected to consult both their party and their constituents before acting.

12 Representative Democracy ...... Parliamentary Democracy
Representative democracy is often also known as Parliamentary Democracy in the UK. This is mostly due to the nature of representative democracy, representation has traditionally been done through parliament. Parliamentary democracy takes place in the UK and is styled as follows within Britain; Political authority is derived from Parliament in Britain. In order to wield the power to instigate laws on politics in Britain one must be a member of Parliament to do so. The Government is derived from people in Parliament so that they can be made accountable to the people for their actions. The people in Government will either be members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. All actions of the Government must first pass through Parliament so that they can be vetted on behalf of the people. Interests of everybody in the country are registered in Parliament through their elected MPs for their constituency. Which means in theory that everybody in the country is represented in Parliament. Cont on next slide...

13 Representative Democracy ...... Parliamentary Democracy
Interests of everybody in the country are registered in Parliament through their elected MPs for their constituency. Which means in theory that everybody in the country is represented in Parliament. When a party is trying to win an election it produces a manifesto to indicate its proposals for the future. When that party is successful and becomes the Government the manifesto becomes a mandate. This mandate is monitored by Parliament to ensure that the Governmental Party is doing what it promised to do. This means that the people are represented by their MPs as mandate enforcers to ensure potential Governmental parties do not lie to the people when attempting to become elected. Parliament represents the people on a national scale and as such has the power to refuse Governmental proposals if they do not represent what people in the country want as a whole. So The Parliament, alongside elections, is what represents the people, standing at the centre of national politics in Britain, giving legitimacy to the Government

14 Representative Democracy cont.
There is growing disillusionment amongst the populous in relation to politics in general and particularly political parties. Fewer people turn out to vote Fewer people join political parties Fewer people closely identify with a particular political party There are however, a number of ways in which people do still feel represented by the political institutions. Each MP in parliament represents a constituency within Britain. They therefore have to represent not only the views of the constituency as a whole but also the individuals within that constituency. Sometimes this means MPs put forward arguments and ideas which do not fall under their own party’s policies. It is key to representative democracy that this happens so that individuals feel represented in their views by the people they have elected into public office. Parliament functions as a cross-section of society, representing what the MPs and peers believe to be the viewpoint of those in their constituency during the debates which take place within the two Houses of Parliament. Neither of the two Houses of Parliament can claim to be truly representative of the whole of society. The table on the next slide shows the representation of different groups within the parliament of 2005;

15 UK Parliament Representation
The table shows the representation of different groups within the parliament of 2005;. UK Parliament Representation House of Lords Group Women Ethnic Minorities % in the House 19.0 3.3 % in the Whole Population 50.5 9.0 House of Commons Aged >50 Aged <50 Business background Manual workers All professionals 23.1 2.3 56.2 43.8 19.2 5.9 39.0 35.0 65.0 17.8 18.7 27.2

16 Women and Minority representation- statistics from the 2010 election
When taking a cross-section of society the two worst represented groups are women and ethnic minorities. Whilst there is a variety of jobs represented they tend to be those of the professional workers rather than the manual labourers. So to take a further look at women and minority representation here are statistics from the 2010 election; Party Number of women MPs Increase/decrease from 2005 Proportion of Parliamentary party (%) Labour 81 -13 31.4 Conservatives 49 +31 16.0 Liberal Democrats 7 -2 12.3 Other 6 - In the 2010 elections the proportion of women in the House of Commons rose from 19.5 % in 2005 to 22.0 % in 2010.

17 Women and Minority representation- statistics from the 2010 election
Party Number of women MPs Increase/decrease from 2005 Proportion of Parliamentary party (%) Labour 81 -13 31.4 Conservatives 49 +31 16.0 Liberal Democrats 7 -2 12.3 Other 6 - Out of the 4,134 candidates in the 2010 elections only 877 of them were women; that means that only 21% of the electoral candidates were women. Some of those women were competing against each other as candidates for different parties, which explains in part why this increase in women did not lead to a huge increase in the number of female MPs elected. The table clearly indicates that Labour, more than any of the other parties, has strived for more women amongst their party members, hence in areas where Labour is strong, like in the North East of England, there are higher proportions of women elected into office in the 2010 elections.

18 Women and Minority representation- statistics from the 2010 election
Party Number of women MPs Increase/decrease from 2005 Proportion of Parliamentary party (%) Labour 81 -13 31.4 Conservatives 49 +31 16.0 Liberal Democrats 7 -2 12.3 Other 6 - The 2010 election saw a rise in elected ethnic minorities as well from 14 MPs in 2005 to 26 in 2010, meaning the ethnic minority MPs made up 4% of the new parliament in However as ethnic minorities made up 10% of the population in 2010 this is still not representative. There were 130 candidates for the 2010 election who were of ethnic minorities. Labour increased their number of ethnic minority MPs from 13 to 15 in the 2010 elections. The Conservatives boosted their number of ethnic minority MPs from 2 to 11 in the 2010 elections. The Liberal Democrats had a record number of ethnic minority MP candidates for the 2010 elections but were unsuccessful in having any of those candidates elected.

19 General facts about Politics and Representation
All the mainstream parties claim to represent all the people in modern politics. Traditionally the Conservatives used to support the middle classes and Labour always campaigned as the workers party. This has changed in recent years; all parties now claim to be focused on the whole of society rather than a section of it. People now are feeling less connected with political parties, feeling that they cannot possibly represent all the varied and sometimes conflicting views of all the people in the country. They are therefore turning to pressure groups as a way of expressing their individual views on a smaller but powerful scale. Pressure groups are seen as more effective means of communicating desires today than political parties. The media, particularly newspapers, are regarded as methods of hearing the public voice. Newspaper editors aim to write with a voice and opinions that will match their readers’ opinions. The strength of influence newspapers have is debatable but politicians certainly pay more attention to the press than they used to.

20 Representative Democracy
A comparison between direct democracy and representative democracy . . . Direct Democracy Representative Democracy This is the purist form of democracy If people make their own decisions then the decisions made may carry better authority People in general are becoming better educated and better informed and so are more capable of forming their own judgement of a situation Pure direct democracy prevents representatives from making choices that are in their own interests rather than the interest of the people In times of disillusionment with representatives people prefer making their own decisions Having representatives to make cool headed decisions based on knowledge and logic rather than snap decisions based on emotion is good Representative democracy can convert a variety of demands into practical policies, whereas demands made by people are often illogical and hard to define Representative democracy allows for everybody to be heard, protecting the minority vote, direct democracy tends to be rule of the majority Direct democracy tends to over-simplify problems and solutions whereas representative democracy can deal with those complex situations as they are

21 Potential Exam Question: What makes the UK a Democracy
Elements of UK Democracy Limitations of UK Democracy Free and fair elections are held at regular intervals (at least once every four years) Elections are not financially free, (they cost money!) and the government chooses the timing of the election People have the right of freedom of speech Laws on defamation and monitoring racism limit free speech Minority groups do not face official discrimination Areas like employment and housing still have discrimination Elections means that people are choosing their politicians which legitimises politicians powers Turnout at elections is falling all the time, so how legitimate is the government? Election time is when politicians are accountable to the people Most people vote on the basis of the party rather than the MP standing, making accountability hazy People have the right of free press National security issues and libel law suits limit what the press print Political parties are free to make their views known and campaign for their policies to be adopted The electoral system is not designed in favour of the smaller political parties People have the right of freedom of association Activities of Trade Unions are limited Human Rights Act Rights from this Act are not constitutional, the government can suspend them with reasons People have the right of freedom of assembly Assemblies of people which police deem to be riotous can be forcibly disbanded So, is Britain a liberal democracy? The next page debates . . .

22 Is Britain a Liberal Democracy?
To investigate whether or not Britain is a liberal democracy a more complex definition of democracy is needed in the form of criteria for what a liberal democracy is composed of; Accountability to the people Legitimacy and the transfer of power Limited Government Free and fair elections Rights and liberties Information is freely available to the public

23 Does Britain follow these criteria for liberal democracy?
Accountability to the people; In Britain, all Parliamentary proceedings are fully reported so that the public can monitor what parliament is doing. This means that the government is held accountable to the public for the decisions it makes. How effective this reporting is given the time constraints, limited technical back-up and lack of expertise often in place is debatable, but the system is in place. Legitimacy and transfer of power; In a liberal government transfer of power from one party to another must be peaceful and orderly, with the losing party acknowledging the legitimacy of the new party in power. Britain has a very good track record for this. There is little to no violence associated with the changing of power and elections are recognised as a legitimate form of power transference by all the leading parties.

24 Does Britain follow these criteria for liberal democracy?
Limited Government; The powers of government should be limited and/or controlled by elected constitutions, the law, or both. Britain is not so great at this. Unlike America there is no British Constitution upon which to found the fundamental laws regarding the power of government. In theory as long as parliament can be persuaded, the government can d anything it wants to within Britain. Parliament rarely challenges the opinion of the prime minister in matters of security, defence and governmental procedures. Although a good record for stepping in when a government has over-stepped its mark is held by parliament. Free and fair elections; These are self-explanatory and are accepted as being true for Britain for the most part. There is an independent Electoral Committee which oversees all the elections in Britain and has meant that Britain's elections have been largely free of corruption with the exception of recent worries over postal voting. Unless someone has been disqualified for justified reasons then everyone in Britain has the right to vote in the electoral process. However, to Britain’s disadvantage the ‘first past the post’ system it uses for voting is no longer considered to be totally fair. Smaller parties are unable to gain seats because of the way the system is designed. Many votes are regarded as being ‘wasted’ because of the areas where parties have ‘safe’ seats.

25 Does Britain follow these criteria for liberal democracy?
Rights and liberties; For a liberal democracy the rights and liberties of the citizens must be allowed and protected, including those related to belief, culture, opinions and lifestyles. The country should not penalise people for any of these being different from other people unless in violation of the law. Britain is split on its compatibility with this point of liberal democracy. Britain has signed up for the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Social Chapter of the European Union; but Parliament still retains the right to suspend any rights and liberties it sees fit. Occasionally freedoms and rights have been temporarily suspended by Parliament under issues of national security or legal issues. So, in theory, as long as parliament approves, the government has the power to alter the freedoms and rights enjoyed by citizens of Britain. Most other liberal democracies have implacable protected rights against this interference from the government, so Britain id less liberally democratic in this area than some other liberal democracies. Information is freely available to the public; Self-explanatory, the public should have the right to oversee all information generated within the government. Britain has both freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which allows the citizen’s of Britain to be fully informed of a variety of different political views at any one time. The British media are well-known for the investigative journalism they produce and for the activism they cover in politics. There is little to no evidence of governmental interference in the freedom of information; except perhaps in areas of national security and warfare, where almost all governments have at least attempted to manipulate or censor the news. Whether this is justifiable limitation of the press is debatable.

26 Key word you need to know
Direct Democracy Representative Democracy Parliamentary Democracy Liberal Democracy

27 Useful e-links For a summary of Direct Democracy; For a summary of Representative Democracy; For a summary of Liberal Democracy;

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