Parliament can make laws on any matter due to Dicey in ‘Law of the Constitution (1885).’ He said that ‘in theory Parliament has total power. It is sovereign'. He states a number of reasons as to how this is possible. Firstly Dicey points out that Parliament can pass laws on any subject without legal restriction therefore it is sovereign. This principle is a result of the election of the Members of Parliament (MPs), by the electorate which gives them authority to represent and pass legislation on their behalf.
The UK has a multi-level government, a system of free and fair democratic elections is present, basic rights and liberties of citizens are protected and there is a wide range of political parties and pressure groups. However, there are many criticisms of UK democracy which suggest it is in need of reform. The use of the first-past-the-post system at general elections, less political participation, the absence of a properly drafted bill of rights incorporated within a codified and entrenched constitution, presidentialism and the improper separation of powers are just a few of the issues which rise from UK democracy. It is unarguable that UK democracy is in crisis and is in need of reform, although some aspects are strong and should remain as they are. Elections are free and held regularly, however their often considered to be unfair and undemocratic.
These include the franchise, a fair voting system, accountability, a choice of party, access to information, a national party system and participation – the right to stand for election to parliament. Historians debate the extent to which Britain had become a fully democratic country by 1928. This essay will argue that whilst Britain was essentially a fully democratic country by 1928, a number of imperfections remained to be addressed within Britain’s democratic system. Arguably, the most important hallmark of a democracy is the franchise. For a country to be democratic there should be universal suffrage – all adults should have the right to vote.
To what extent would the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK? This response will discuss to what extent the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK. Referendums are a tool of direct democracy where the electorate vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on an issue. There are many arguments for and against the wider use of referendums within the UK in an aim to improve the UK’s democracy; these arguments will be explored in this essay. The first argument links to the fact that politicians are in their position to represent the public’s interests.
Referendums offer the general public a choice, they are not only good for helping the public feel more involved but they are good for deciding important decisions such as changes to the constitution. Referendums help the politicians to know what the public wants and they help the public to voice their opinions on major issues. Referendums also stop the government from having so much power, and therefore maintains a democratic system as there is less chance of having a dictatorship. If there is an issue which divides parties’ on key issues which affect the public the public can have their say. If this is “a government of the people” then there should have been a referendum on tuition fees as this was a controversial subject that affected a lot of people.
Political parties are important because the relationships between them are crucial in making the political system work. The mainstream view of UK politics is that it is dominated by the two-party system. However, changes in politics have caused people to disagree about the extent of the UK being a two party system. In 1998, devolution (the statutory granting of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to government at a subnational level, such as a regional, local, or state level) took place through the creation of a Scottish Parliament, a Welsh Assembly and a Northern Ireland Assembly. Devolution has made nationalist parties more prominent.
Do political parties help or hinder democracy in the UK Political parties can be seen to help and hinder democracy in the UK, however in my opinion I feel that they help democracy more than hinder it, as political parties give the electorate a varied range of choice along with many other democracy enhancing factors. One of the main reasons as to why I believe political parties help democracy is because they provide the general public with a diverse choice of ideologies that can gain power, ranging from the conservative party to the monster raving loony party. The electorate can vote for a candidate in a party that they feel shares their beliefs. However, some people may argue that the three main parties (conservative, liberal democrat and labour) have all moved very central and now share similar ideologies detracting from the idea of “choice”. To this I would say that the parties may have centralised slightly, but their core values still exist, which is what most people are interested in.
For this not to happen, a combination of oligarchy and democracy should be formed. The Founding Fathers favored representative democracy. They favored this form of government because it minimized the risk of abuse of power. They believed that the phrase "will of the people" was not
Pressure groups activity in the UK presents a major threat to democracy. Evaluate the arguments in favour of this view (25 marks) Pressure groups aim to influence government policy without seeking election itself. The actions of pressure groups challenge and influence democracy as well as being beneficial to democracy in the UK as pressure groups challenge policies and put pressure on the government to change them. On the other hand pressure groups only represent a minority of people’s views and aren’t considered a major threat to democracy. Robert Dahl and Charles Lindbolm suggest a pluralist view of democracy suggesting that pressure groups are beneficial to democracy.
Sandel suggest discarding the whole culture of hiding moral convictions from debate because it is unnatural. This suggestion seems to be heading along the right path to creating a more reflective democracy. He is essentially asking for a “free market place of ideas” to ensue and that people will be swayed by truth and conviction. Sandel is very invested in discussing the purpose, the core of things and this leading us to a better form of democratic debate. It is a very ideal way of government and would require a high degree of autonomy on the part of the citizens and it would most likely cause slow progress.