Are UK pressure groups good for democracy? In certain cases, pressure groups within the UK have been good for democracy and have helped to enhance its values and features, however, many would argue that it has damaged and challenged the aims of democracy itself. A pressure group is an organisation that ultimately aims to influence new and existing public policies from creation though to implementation. A pressure group can be either a sectional or promotional group, sectional group’s aim to represent a specific sub-section of society whereas a promotional group will try to promote a single cause over the interests of their members. Additionally pressure groups can be defined as an insider or outside group; insider pressure groups will have well established relations with parliamentary officials and will be regularly consulted by government, outsider groups will have no specific connections within the political system and so try to influence decision makers though mobilising public opinion.
Part A - 5 marks. Explain, with examples, how Political Parties mobilise the electorate and give them opportunities to participate in a democracy. A Political party are a group of people that are organised for the purpose of winning government power. Political parties mobilise the electorate by handing out leaflets, running campaigns and showing the public the up and coming parties. This gives them opportunities to participate in a democracy as it encourages interest in the parties running for power.
Pressure groups are seen as a way to promote democracy, because they add to the plurality of the UK. However, they can also be seen as undemocratic, due to the influence they may have over political parties and governmental policy. Ways in which pressure groups promote democracy in the UK are: they act as an education function, they also add to participation. Democracy is promoted, also, by the added representation they allow, and promotion of minority interests. However, they are seen as undemocratic due wealth influencing a pressure groups ability to pressure, disproportionate influence, and they are also not accountable - internal democracy.
Whereas if the representatives were to vote on their behalf it may be based on their views and interest, having referendums prevents the government from making unpopular decisions. This will improve the UK’s democratic system as the views of the citizens are clearer and representative of citizens who are affected by the decision being made. However others argue that the general public is not educated enough to make these big decisions therefore it would lead to the wrong decisions being made which
Edelman believes that leaders make decisions that don’t have much effect on the country’s problems & these decisions are either glorified or attacked. However, groups such as the military make decisions that directly affect the people, and these decisions are not publicized. Leaders are part of a larger network and do not affect a society alone. Understanding this prevents people from becoming blind followers of the President. Recognizing political communication and the tensions in politics, enables receivers of the media to watch and listen with critical eyes and ears.
Do pressure groups strengthen or weaken democracy? It is extremely difficult to reach a conclusion on whether groups are good or otherwise for democracy but it is important to realise how they can be both beneficial and damaging to it. In debating the matter we face the difficulty that the group’s methods, aims and composition vary significantly and so they cannot all be thrown into the same group. So while we make comments on judgements they are only generalised and do not apply to all groups in all circumstances. Government’s aims are always to please the public, or do the best for the state and so these groups clearly show the government what a certain band of people wish to happen.
However, Parliament is sovereign and civil rights and liberties have been put suspended but only in the interests of law and order or national security. Unlike many other democracies, the government retains control over rights and freedoms of citizens. Democracy can lead to the abuse of power and there are fears that if those who govern are left to their own devices, they may claim substantial amounts of power and begin to abuse their position. By making governments accountable to the people, this can be prevented. Governments must submit themselves regularly to re-election and by guaranteeing that they are controlled by elected representatives, the people can feel safe from the corruption of power.
UK citizen are more informed and able to make analytical judgements in their best interest, this in turn, challenges the authority of the state to decide what is in our best interest. In light of these developments many UK citizens now want to be protected from the frequently exposed dangers of an uncodified constitution. On this basis it is fair to evaluate citizens need for safety overcomes the need for flexibility, thus a codified constitution is now needed to a large extent. Some argue the UK does not currently need a codified constitution because they already have a fragmented constitution. Where large parts of it are written down, in the laws passed in Parliament - known as statute law and ‘The Doctrine Of Parliamentary Sovereignty’ all of which clearly outline the laws, principles and established precedents according to how the UK is governed.
Beyond creating a conscience on the importance of voting, we hope to raise awareness to political issues that concerns us all. There is no small issue in politics. That is why it is important for us to be empowered and take action in the best way possible, casting our vote and making our voice heard. It is our right, it is our duty, it is our responsibility. Many people use the term 'democracy' as shorthand for liberal democracy, which may include elements such as political pluralism; equality before the law; the right to petition elected officials for redress of grievances; due process; civil liberties; human rights; and elements of civil society outside the government.
The federal system gives states the power to pass its own laws including laws that may restrict voting to only a particular group. This becomes problematic when attempts are made to prevent certain people from contributing to the voting turnouts and twisting the votes to benefit a particular party’s self interest. Voting should be regulated by the federal state because it will prevent states from restricting and discriminating certain groups of people within its state from voting which is unconstitutional, racially biased, and will lower the voting turnout. Federalism is what gives states their power but often times states use this power to their advantage to create outcomes that may increase their power. An example would be the Arizona Voting Law which demands proof of one’s citizenship and other documents that many people of color may not have or have difficulty obtaining.