(1) To what extent are UK electionsdemocratic?


A level People and Politics (Elections and voting) Mind Map on (1) To what extent are UK electionsdemocratic?, created by Marcus Danvers on 04/03/2014.
Mind Map by Marcus Danvers, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Marcus Danvers about 9 years ago

Resource summary

(1) To what extent are UK electionsdemocratic?
  1. examples of elections that take place in the UK
    1. General Elections
      1. which provide members of Parliament for all geographical locations in the UK. They also serve to determine the government of the UK and are seen as the most important elections in the UK
      2. By-elections
        1. serve to provide representatives when a vacancy arises
        2. Local elections
          1. provide representation at a lower level and elect councillors who administer certain services in the locality Elections to the devolved assemblies provide representatives for regional government in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.
          2. regionally elected mayors
            1. Elections take place for regionally elected mayors which include London.
            2. secure representatives for the EU
              1. Elections take place to secure representatives for the EU. These are fixed term.
            3. To what extent are UK elections democratic?
              1. Undemocratic
                1. Unelected House of Lords and Monarchy
                  1. Declining participation
                    1. FPTP voting system
                      1. ‘Consensus politics’ restricts choice
                      2. Democratic
                        1. Free and fair elections?
                          1. Secret Ballot
                            1. One person one vote
                              1. Electoral commission (2000)
                              2. Universal adult suffrage
                                1. Free electoral choice and competition between parties
                              3. What are the functions of elections and how effective are they?
                                1. Form a government
                                  1. Majority party leader becomes PM
                                    1. PM appoints ministers to form government
                                      1. Possible that no party will gain a majority and be able to form government (as in 2010) due to proportional representation (a majoritarian system)
                                      2. Representation
                                        1. Politicians represent their constituencies(link between the people and those who govern them, enabling the people to hold politicians to account)
                                          1. Public elect government to represent them (establishing a link between the govt & public opinion)
                                            1. 5 years between elections - how far/for how long do elected politicians represent the views of the public?
                                              1. How can politicians represent their electors (trustees vs. delegates, manifestoes = doctrine of the mandate, descriptive representation)?
                                              2. Legitimacy
                                                1. By voting the public consent that the government has ‘right to rule’
                                                  1. This provides political stability
                                                    1. Declining rates of participation – particularly voter turnout
                                                      1. Alienation and voter apathy (withholding consent?)
                                                        1. Falling support for Labour & Conservatives – popular dissatisfaction with UK political system?
                                                      2. Election systems
                                                        1. FPTP
                                                          1. Where is it used?
                                                            1. HoC in England, local govt in Wale
                                                            2. System?
                                                              1. Constituency system; returns single candidate; winner takes all effect
                                                              2. Advantages?
                                                                1. Simple and straightforward system
                                                                  1. Effective in forming a strong and stable government
                                                                    1. Lower cost to administer
                                                                    2. Disadvantages?
                                                                      1. Adverse affect on political participation
                                                                        1. Can encourage tactical voting
                                                                          1. Does not proportionally reflect the views of the electorate
                                                                            1. Discriminates against parties with more dispersed support
                                                                          2. AV
                                                                            1. Where is it used?
                                                                              1. London Mayor (SV) & Scottish local govt by-elections
                                                                              2. System?
                                                                                1. AV: Voters use preferential voting SV: Voters have 2 votes – a preference & supplementary vote
                                                                                  1. Winning candidates must win 50% of all votes cast. In AV below 50% drop out until one left with 50% of vote. In SV top 2 remain in election, with those below 50% having their votes redistributed on the basis of their SV, so winner achieves 50%
                                                                                  2. Advantages?
                                                                                    1. Few votes are "wasted" the FPTP
                                                                                      1. Broad range of views and opinions influence outcome of the election, with parties thus being drawn towards the centre ground
                                                                                      2. Disadvantages?
                                                                                        1. Outcome determined by preference of those who support small parties possibly extremist parties
                                                                                          1. Winning candidates may enjoy little first-preference support - least unpopular candidate
                                                                                        2. STV
                                                                                          1. Where is it used?
                                                                                            1. N.Ireland Assembly, local govt & European Parliament, & Scotland local govt
                                                                                            2. System?
                                                                                              1. Multimember constituencies; voting based on preferentiality of candidates; votes counted in order of preference; candidate’s votes with the fewest are redistributed.
                                                                                              2. Advantages?
                                                                                                1. Highly proportional outcomes
                                                                                                  1. Competition amougst candidates form same party - can be judged on their individual records and personal strengths
                                                                                                    1. Several members means choose who they can take their grievances to
                                                                                                    2. Disadvantages?
                                                                                                      1. Proportionally achieved in this system can vary, basis of the party system
                                                                                                        1. Single party government unlikely
                                                                                                          1. Divisive because they encourage competion amoughst members of the same party
                                                                                                        2. AMS
                                                                                                          1. Where is it used?
                                                                                                            1. Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly & Greater London Assembly
                                                                                                            2. System?
                                                                                                              1. Mixed in that proportion of seats sfilled by FPTP (Scotland & London 56% of representatives filled this way, 66% in Wales).
                                                                                                                1. For remaining seats, closed (voters only see the party, not the specific candidates) party-list system used – voters cast 2 votes, one for candidate in constituency and another for a party in a list election.
                                                                                                                2. Advantages?
                                                                                                                  1. Balance need constituency representation against the need for electoral fairness
                                                                                                                    1. Keeps alive the possibility of single-party government
                                                                                                                    2. Disadvantages?
                                                                                                                      1. Reduce high level of proportionality
                                                                                                                        1. Create confusion by having two class representatives
                                                                                                                          1. Constituency representation will be less effective - large size of constituencies means loss of constituency duties
                                                                                                                        2. Regional party list
                                                                                                                          1. Where is it used?
                                                                                                                            1. European Parliament (except N. Ireland)
                                                                                                                            2. System?
                                                                                                                              1. Multimember constituencies (e.g. UK has 12 regions with 3-10 members = 72 members);
                                                                                                                                1. political parties form lists of candidates for the electorate in descending order of preference – electors votes for parties not candidates;
                                                                                                                                  1. parties allocated seats in proportion to votes they gain at regional level from their party list.
                                                                                                                                  2. Advantages?
                                                                                                                                    1. Pure proportional representation - fair to all partys'
                                                                                                                                      1. Promote unity - identify with a reign
                                                                                                                                        1. Minority candidates elected
                                                                                                                                        2. Disadvantages?
                                                                                                                                          1. Weak and unstable government
                                                                                                                                            1. Weak link between representatives and constituencies
                                                                                                                                              1. Party become powerful as can decide where candidates are placed on the listed
                                                                                                                                          2. Distinguish between majoritarian representation and proportional representation
                                                                                                                                            1. Majoritarian representation can be ascribed some of the following features :
                                                                                                                                              1. Parties can get a majority of the seats without necessarily obtaining a majority of the votes cast which means that governments are often formed without the support of 50% of those who voted
                                                                                                                                                1. Majoritarian systems are said to engineer a ‘winners bonus’ in that one party is often over rewarded in terms of seats for the number of votes they received.
                                                                                                                                                  1. First past the post (a plurality system) usually produces majoritarian representation
                                                                                                                                                    1. In this sense the Westminster system of governments requiring 50% (+1) 326 seats is majoritarian.
                                                                                                                                                      1. This type of representation often ensures that one party obtains a majority of the seats in a legislature
                                                                                                                                                        1. It is associated with strong single party government
                                                                                                                                                          1. The Alternative Vote and the Supplementary Vote are majoritarian systems which attempt to provide majoritarian representation
                                                                                                                                                          2. Proportional representation can be ascribed some of the following features:
                                                                                                                                                            1. There is a close correlation between the number of votes cast and the number of seats which are obtained.
                                                                                                                                                              1. This means that often political parties are rewarded with a fair share of the seats for the votes they obtained
                                                                                                                                                                1. At its optimum level this would mean for example that if a party received 30% of the vote cast it should receive 30% of the seats available.
                                                                                                                                                                  1. It is said to confer a greater sense of legitimacy on governments which are formed subsequent to an election
                                                                                                                                                                    1. Often proportional representation means that a majority one party government is not achieved and that coalitions are the normal outcome of this system.
                                                                                                                                                                      1. The list system, AMS and STV are proportional systems which aim to provide proportional representation
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