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0px 0.0px; font: 11.0px Helvetica; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 13.0px}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}A democratic deficit is when an authority or in this care the government fail to represent their citizens needs.

This could be due to many reasons such as a poor electoral system or low turnouts at elections.The UK could suffer from a democratic deficit could be because of having an unelected second chamber such as the House of Lords. Many believe that the house of lords creates a democratic deficit due to the fact it is not elected, over 700 peers have been appointed by the primeinister or monarch and in many peoples eyes this causes a democratic deficit. Also the UK voting system could also be criticised, it can be seen as undemocratic because the UK uses a voting system called ‘FPTP’ (First past the post) this results in unequal value of votes, evidence of this is shown from recent votes where it takes 115,000 votes to be elected for a liberal democrat MP whereas for a labour or conservative only 35,000 votes is needed to become elected, this disadvantages small parties. The reason for this being undemocratic is because in a true democracy all minorities should be given an equal voice. Another effect of the FPTP is that it can lead to un-proportional seats in the House of commons, this is shown where the liberal democrats won 23% of votes but only awarded with 9% of the seats. Another major reason to suggest a democratic deficit could be because that there has been a fall in political participation.

Election turnouts have decreased each year, for example in 1979 turnout was 76% but in 2010 turnout was only 65% this can also mean that a party cannot claim to represent a majority when in fact more people could have voted against or didn’t vote at all. Some people may consider the value of their vote and deem it not worthy to vote because those living in safe seats may feel that there is little point in their vote because the result is obvious. Those in marginal seats may be more likely to turn out and vote. Another reason for lack of participation could be because of political apathy where voters believe that they have made little difference or no influence to political situations, also hapathy suggests that a proportion of those who do not vote, prefer not to because they are satisfied with the way they are being governed. The electoral commission in 2005 showed that 29% of people who didn’t vote felt happy with the way they were being governed. Another reason for democratic deficit could be because some pressure groups with a higher status than others may have more direct influence than others, this is apparent with insider groups who have regular contact with decision makers and generally walk behind the scenes rather than engaging in publicity stunts for media attention to increase publicity. Inside groups include sectional groups who have a narrow sectional interest such as the BMA who are funded by the government. Whereas, outside groups have the disadvantage because they do not have regular contact with decision makers and may result in law breaking stunts to publicise the matter, an example of this is fathers for justice, by doing such publicity stunts they hope to achieve awareness and move their cause up the political agenda.

 On the other hand, there is indication that the UK is not in democratic deficit. One of the reasons being pressure group membership increasing. Recent years have seen the rise of less formally structured social movements and direct actions. A pressure group example is RSPB (Royal society for protection of birds) has over a million members and growing this indicates that the public is engaging and interested in the political agenda. The groups allow the strength of opinions to be expressed as oppose to simply counting the number of people supporting a view (as what happens in an election.) The groups also allow a wider range of opinions to be expressed which can be referred to as a positive democratic system, in addition to this, more opinions can be expressed than possible through political parties. Also, devolution is an example of UK having democratic status, for example distribution of power has given Scotland, Northern Ireland and wales more power at a local level.

This decision for devolution was done through a referendum, the referendum allowed people to answer a political question with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, this also would be seen as enhancing democracy as it allows the public to voice an opinion in a political matter, and it allowed the government to see what the public was in favour for. The transfer of west minister power to elected sub-national governments has allowed new legislations from these bodies, an example being Scottish and Welsh students having their university and tuition fees paid for. Some could see that subsidiarity would help enhance democracy as it allows the lowest tier of governments to engage in political decisions, this acts for local accountability making it more suitable for dealing with certain issues at a local level. In conclusion it is clear that the UK could suffer from certain impacts of democratic deficit such as unelected institutions, unfair voting systems and a decline in election turnout, however active participation such as pressure group membership and devolution are signals that the UK is becoming more democratic.


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