A political system based on the idea that government should serve the interests of the people.
the extent to which a government has the right to rule and exercise power.
Power vs. Authority
Power= the ability to make someone do something that they would not do of their own free will e.g. Coercion – the use of force to achieve ends – the military
Authority = the right to exercise power (based on the consent of those being ruled) e.g. - Legal/rational HoC & Traditional – HOL
What makes a government legitimate?
Referendums (‘Yes’ answers)
Free, fair and regular elections
Lack of dissent
Displays of public support
How legitimate is the UK?
House of Commons is elected
Government elected with mandate to govern
House of Lords has traditional authority and political influence is widely recognised
Electoral system unfair and distorts political representation (FPTP)
Every government elected has only achieved the minority of the popular vote
House of Lords members are not elected and so do not have the people’s consent
What are the two types of democracy?
What is Direct Democracy?
The people themselves directly make the important decisions which affect them The people are directly consulted on political decisions Action taken by the people shapes political decisions (via protests, e-petitions, strikes)
E-petitions: 10,000+ = written statement in response – forces government to be accountable
100,000+ = eligible for House of Commons debate
Advantages of Direct Democracy?
Purest form of democracy
Disperses power widely among population
Decisions may be more accepted
Increases democracy as it increases participation
What are the disadvantages of Direct Democracy?
Direct democracy = tyranny of the majority
Many decisions may be too complex for the people to understand
Can create emotional rather than rational responses from the people
Undermines the role of elected representatives
What is Representative Democracy
The people elect representatives from different political parties to form an assembly which
These representatives form an assembly which reflects the will of the people
Representatives govern in the interests of all sections of society
Ideas on how a representative should act in a representative democracy
Delegation – follow very closely the wishes of those who elected the representative
Burkean representation – use their own judgement rather than follow the exact wishes of their electors or party
Parliamentary representation – representatives should strike a balance between their own judgement, the wishes of their electors and the policies of their political party
Features of a representative democracy:
There are free elections to representative assemblies
There government rule ‘for the people’
Political associations and pressure groups operate freely and represent various causes, believes and interest groups