To what extend is Britain a representative democracy? Essay

513 WordsMar 9, 20083 Pages
Representative democracy is a system used in many countries as a way of making decisions about the running of a country. This is in contrast to a system of direct democracy, where citizens have a direct input into decisions. The representative’s aim is subject to some dispute – some believe that they should simply relay the opinions of their constitituents, akin to the ancient greek system of delegates, some believe that the representative should base their decisions on the good of their constituents, and some believe that the representative should be elected, and then make decisions based on his own judgement and conscience – the notion of Burkean democracy. These representatives are chosen – in Britain – through a First Past The Post election system. Almost all of the electorate are permitted to vote (a broad franchise), and elections are held freely and fairly, and are subject to scrupulous scrutiny in order to ensure this. This means that the people’s votes should represent their opinions as truly and fairly as is possible. However, these votes, whilst being fair themselves, are not always directly or precisely proportional to the power that is bestowed upon their choice. The First Past The Post system is not a system of proportional representation, as it is a single member, simple plurality system and thus could not be. Whilst this system has many positives (it creates much stronger governments than other alternatives, for example), it is not as representative as other systems, and, because of its single member constituencies, it can lead to a lack of social and political representation. There is only one winner in each constituency, and if a candidate does not receive a majority their votes are effectively wasted, and the winner can often receive less than 50% of the votes, meaning that the majority of voters’ will be entirely useless. When this is combined
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