Presentation on theme: "D EMOCRACY IN S COTLAND Recap. In a democracy, citizens can participate freely through voting to elect their political representatives. They also have."— Presentation transcript:
In a democracy, citizens can participate freely through voting to elect their political representatives. They also have the right to free speech, to join pressure groups and trade unions, and to criticise the government.
R IGHTS AND R ESPONSIBILITIES – A RIGHT IS SOMETHING A PERSON IS ENTITLES TO ; RESPONSIBILITIES ARE THINGS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD DO OR ARE EXPECTED TO DO. To elect our representatives and vote on political issues. Those eighteen years old and over can vote in elections. To express our views in print, social networks sites and in newspapers. To protest and try to change government legislation such as student tuition fees. To accept the decision of the majority, even if we disagree. To be responsible citizens and use our vote in an attempt to influence our representatives. To avoid telling lies or slandering individuals, since this is illegal. To protest, within the law and respect the rights of others. RightsResponsibilities
T HE UK POLITICAL SYSTEM The UK is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. This means the Queen is the ceremonial head of state to the peoples of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, but not the head of government. The traditional prerogative powers (powers of the monarch that are exercised in the crown’s name by the prime minister and government ministers) of the monarch are held by the UK prime minister and the cabinet. The UK is a unitary system where all the powers are vested in the UK parliament. In this way, the monarch’s role in the UK is mostly ceremonial. The UK government is directly accountable to the parliament.
H OW ARE DECISIONS MADE IN THE UK? There are two types of democracy - Direct Democracy - Representative Democracy Direct Democracy = A political system where all citizens vote on every decision taken by the government. Representative Democracy = Representative democracy is a form of government in which citizens elect representatives to vote on their behalf. The representatives are responsible for acting in the people's best interests. Representatives will work for citizens in some form of assembly, often called a parliament. In the parliament they will debate issues of concern and vote on new laws. Under this system, representatives listen to the opinions of constituents (those who vote for them), but they reach their own decision on how they should vote.
H OW ARE DECISIONS MADE IN THE UK? C ONT. Direct democracy would be impractical here because of the population size. Instead, the UK is a representative democracy. However, the government can, on occasion, ask the people to vote on a particular issues. This is called a referendum. In 2014, the people of Scotland was asked to take part in a referendum on Scottish Independence. Referendum = A type of vote where the electorate votes either yes or no on a single political question or issue.
D EVOLUTION The Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 after the people of Scotland voted in favour of devolution in a referendum. Devolution = The transfer of powers from a central body to regional administrations.
R EPRESENTATION Everyone in Scotland has a constituency MSP and seven regional MSP’s elected to the Scottish parliament. Scotland is divided into two groups of geographical areas, called constituencies and regions. There are 73 constituencies, each with its own constituency MSP. These constituencies lie within eight regions and each region has seven ‘list’ MSP’s, giving a total of 56 regional MSP’s. This gives a total of 129 MSPs within the Scottish Parliament.
Constituency: Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire = John Lamont Region: South Scotland = - Claudia Beamish - Chic Brodie - Jim Hume - Joan McAlpine - Aileen Mcleod - Graeme Pearson - Paul Wheelhouse
T HE ROLE OF AN MSP An MSP’s working life is divided into two distinct roles: - Working within their constituency/region - and work within the Scottish parliament
T HE S COTTISH PARLIAMENT All the MSPs elected to the Scottish parliament work within the debating chamber of the parliament. The governing party sits in the middle of the chamber and the opposition parties sit on either side.
R OLES WITHIN THE S COTTISH PARLIAMENT First Minister – Leader of the governing party. In most cases this will be the party with the most seats in the chamber. The first minister also has the power to appoint whom they want in the cabinet and this gives them power of patronage (the power to appoint or remove individuals from office). The first minister is accountable to the Scottish parliament. Cabinet – The first minister appoints MSPs from their party to run government departments. There is a government department to look after each of the devolved powers. Two of the most powerful positions in the cabinet are the finance secretary, in charge of government finances, and the deputy first minister, who works closely with the first minister in shaping policy.
R OLES WITHIN THE S COTTISH PARLIAMENT CONT. Leaders of opposition parties – Seen as the chief critics of the government, but they do not have any direct power within the chamber. The opposition parties select MSPs from their own parties to form a shadow cabinet which scrutinised the policies and decisions of the government departments.
P UBLIC PETITIONS Members of the public can raise a ‘national issue’ with parliament by registering a public petition. The Public Petitions Committee will consider what action should be taken. Public petitions have resulted in: - a ban on smoking in public places - plans to resolve a railway link to the Borders
H OW REPRESENTATIVE IS THE S COTTISH PARLIAMENT ? Ethnic minorities and women have not been well represented in the Scottish parliament since it was established in 1999. There are currently two MSP’s from a non-white background – less than 2% of all MSPs. The Scottish ethnic minority population is around 8%. Women are also not fairly represented in the Scottish parliament. Only 35% of MSPs are female (44 out of 129 MSPs), though 51% of the Scottish population is female.
W HY IS FEMALE REPRESENTATION IN THE S COTTISH PARLIAMENT HIGHER THAN IN THE UK PARLIAMENT ? In the UK parliament, 22% of MPs are female, compared to 35% in the Scottish Parliament. The reasons for the difference include: - the working hours of the Scottish parliament are much more family friendly than those of the UK parliament - there are modern crèche facilities within the parliament - through the regional vote, political parties can promote more female MSPs
E LECTORAL SYSTEMS – P ROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION The election system used for the Scottish parliament and Scottish local authority elections is called Proportional Representation (PR). In a PR system, there is more direct link between the number of votes received and the number of seats won. For the Scottish parliament elections the PR system used is called the Additional Member System (AMS). For the Scottish local authority elections the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is used.
A RGUMENTS IN FAVOUR AND A RGUMENTS AGAINST PR PR is ‘fair’ because it produces a close correlation between the share of votes and the share of seats. In the Scottish parliament elections in 2011 the Conservatives won about 13% of the votes and about 12% of the seats. PR can give minority parties more parliamentary representation. In the 2003 elections for the Scottish parliament the AMS system enabled the Scottish Socialist Party, the Green Party, the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party and the Independences to be represented. It is argued that PR will reduce the number of ‘wasted votes’ and so encourage greater voter turnout. PR can create a government in which a minority party can implement it policies. The Liberal Democrats finished fourth in the 2003 Scottish election, yet formed a government with Labour. It can lead to an unstable and weak government. The minority SNP Government of 2007 – 11 found it difficult to implement its policies. It failed, for example, to implement its policy of minimum pricing of alcohol in November 2010. It can lead to extremist parties gaining representation. In the 2009 European elections, the British National Party (BNP) won two seats. Arguments In FavourArguments Against
A DDITIONAL M EMBER S YSTEM (AMS) The Scottish parliament, Welsh assembly and London assembly are all elected using AMS. The system is a mixture of First Past the Post (FPTP) and PR. In Scotland voters cast two votes: 1. The first vote uses FPTP to elect the 73 wining candidates in the local constituency elections. 2. The second vote allows voters to choose between parties in a multi-member constituency. The country is divided into eight regional lists and each region elects seven regional list MSPs. The 56 regional list MSPs are added to the 73 constituency MSPs to give a total of 129 MSPs in the Scottish parliament. Until the 2011 Scottish Parliament election no party had won a majority of seats. This lead to the creation of Labour and Liberal Democrat Coalition Governments after the 1999 and 2003 elections and a minority SNP Government after the 2007 election.
S INGLE T RANSFERABLE V OTE (STV) Local councils in Scotland are elected using STV system. The system was first used in May 2007. This PR system results in a fairer distribution of seats across the parties but it can also mean that no one party has a majority. As a result, fewer councils are controlled by a single party. The main features of STV are given below: In multi-member constituencies voters rank the candidates in order of preference. There will often be more candidates standing in the election than there are seats to be filled. Electors can vote for as many or as few candidates as they like, A quota system is used to calculate the minimum number of votes required to win one of the seats to be filled.
V OTER T URNOUT There has been a serious decline in voter turnout in Scottish elections, especially among young people. In the 1999 Scottish Parliament elections, 58.2% of those eligible turned out to vote. The 2011 election saw a reduced turnout of 50.2%. This is explained by voter apathy = A lack of interest or engagement in the political process. It is clear that many citizens are dissatisfied with the political parties.