Essay about To what extent does democracy in the UK

Submitted By hakeemstout
Words: 1111
Pages: 5

To what extent does democracy in the UK suffer from a ‘participation crisis’?
There has been a decrease in the general election turnouts, suggesting a participation crisis that can arguably cause the party that gains the position of govt. to lack legitimacy. In 2001 the general election turnout was 59 per cent. Furthermore, there has been a gradual decline in party membership numbers for the three main parties, signifying partisan dealignment, less than 1 per cent of the UK’s electorate is currently part of the Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dems. Additionally, participation in other areas of UK politics such as the election of MEP’s, is showing an obvious participation crisis, resulting in the party UKIP dominating the UK for the EU parliament, the turnout for 2014 was 34 per cent. Lastly, further emphasising the current participation crisis in the UK referendum turnouts have been traditionally low, this means decisions implemented based on these results lack legitimacy, the turnout for the AV referendum in 2011 was 42 per cent. However, contrary to previous turnout figures the Scottish devolution referendum had a historic turnout of 85 per cent, suggesting that the current participation crisis democracy in the UK is improving. Moreover, although party membership for the UK is currently at a historic low, pressure group membership has increased dramatically. Suggesting, the electorate are turning to pressure groups for more effective representation. Noticeably, the pressure group RSPB currently has over a million members, which are more than the total of all the UK political party members. Further contrary to the view that the UK is suffering from a participation crisis, representative democracy is showing a recent increase in turnout. In 2012 the by election average turnout was 21.9 per cent, in the recent by election for Clacton the turnout was 51 per cent, this suggests that representative democracy in the UK is increasing in legitimacy. Finally, although there was a drop since 2001 for general election turnouts, the figures have been gradually increasing. Since 2001 the turnout for general elections in the UK has increased from 59 per cent to 65 per cent.
General election turnout supports the fact that the UK democracy is suffering from a participation crisis. Living in a pluralistic society this is a problem as, the party elected for govt. should effectively be representing the views and interests, of the majority of the electorate. Also, a low turnout causes the current govt. to lack legitimacy, as they have not been voted for by a considerable percentage of the electorate, especially as First Past the Post (FPTP) causes wasted votes. From 1945 to 1997 general election turnout had been above 70 per cent, in 2001 it dropped noticeable to 59 per cent and has not yet returned to the previous minimum. Additionally, there is a participation crisis in terms of members of the electorate, gaining party membership. This suggests a partisan dealignment, as a large number of the electorate have no affiliation with a political party. Less than 1 per cent of the UK’s electorate are currently part of the three main parties, Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dems. Having a 2.5 party system in the UK, this is problematic as being part of a party provides an avenue for the electorate, to voice their opinions on policies parties put forward for their manifesto, that if put into action will directly affect them, therefore, not providing effective representation of the members of the electorate voting for them. Moreover, the turnout and results of the MEP's election, further highlights the current participation crisis, in the UK. The voting system for the election of MEP's, is proportionally representative, which should result in equal representation of political parties in the UK. However, as the turnout is continuously low, the turnout for 2014 being 34 per cent, some parties tend to dominate UK representation for the EU. Currently UKIP, has…