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Disadvantages of Democracy and Democracy as the Best Form of Government

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Democracy is system by which it allows the people to have a say on how the country is ran. ‘Its a system of the people, for the people, by the people’.

Government has the authority and to make decision for the people of country, this is done by the choice of the people through a process called the general election. In the UK we have a first past the post system, one vote per person for a representative to become a member of Parliament for that consistency.

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The reason why democracy is important is because it will uphold the interests of the people including those of minority groups, allowing the people to participate on have a say on how the country is ran. Following representative democracy I believe this is one of the purest forms of democracy you can have. Having this system in place will eliminate minorities from being overruled or overheard.

Furthermore, democracy is of great value as despite giving supreme power to those that are governing the country we still have the power to take it back if they abuse it or refuse to help the people e.g. not carrying out on manifestos promised. The way the UK is ran is that every 5 years we hold generals elections so the people can simply vote for another party to come into place and will take over. Previous governments cannot bind future governments, so therefore the future government is not bound by its predecessors.

As we know representative democracy has its advantages and disadvantages. Lets start by talking about the cons of representative democracy as this is the current system that is we have in the UK. The main problem is that once a party is elected to run the country they are given too much power, linking this back to the question democracy is not the best form of government. This is due to many things such as;

In the House of Commons you have the option to party whip your votes, this is when fellow members of the party that hold a seat in the commons vote either in favour or against what the party wishes. The downside of this, MPs each represent different constituencies. A constituency is an area that consists of voters who elect a representative who hold a seat in Parliament who makes decisions on their behalf. Different boroughs have different interests and beliefs as the average incomes vary between the boroughs and the pricing of property.

In the case where party leaders whip their votes, problems and barriers within communities across the country occur, for example if a bill regarding taxation or welfare is passed people’s voices will be left unheard, richer backgrounds such as Kensington and Chelsea will seek to have lower taxation, in contrast a lower average income borough will seek higher taxation to support their local community.

Furthermore, whipping votes results in substandard, undemocratic representation, this goes against the very essence of a representative democracy and can be classed as a dictatorship.

The major issue with whipping votes is that the government holds the most seats in the Commons, while all the remaining seats is given to the rest of the political parties in order. So the triggering of any whips would favour the government. As the seats are disproportionally given to parties under First Past The Post system. The blatant disproportionality is clear through the 2015 general election where four million votes for UKIP only gained them one seat in the House of Commons. A clear example of tyranny of majority in a ‘democratic’ system. Tyranny of majority is the majority having supreme power, this leads to minorities having little to no power while having the same opportunities just a lack of representation.

Conversely, throughout the western world tactically voting is promoted in general elections. Tactical voting is voting to elect a party that is not a person’s ideal choice, just so that another party doesn’t gain that potential seat, an example being having Green Party as your preferred choice or party but being forced to vote for Labour so Conservative don’t win as they are the two large candidates. The public are given the opportunity to vote, however it is not truly optimum as the electorates are only supporting a party in order to prevent another undesirable party from winning, it is not their sincere preference.

In addition, a flaw with the current form of democracy is that the House of Commons are not completely, socially representative. It lacks true representation of those from a minority, ethnic background, fewer women representatives and the lack of diversity in religious orientation. As well as this it is dominated by middle class to higher classed background MPs, hence are likely to support higher income citizens over the working class.

As a result, having this will cause a gap within the political system between the people and the government, as we would only be getting policies passed in favour of those that are from a particular background; wealthy and part of the ruling class which hold the power in the Commons and the Lords. These people are oblivious to the problems that the working class face, and lack the experience necessary to represent minorities.

Another issue with the democratic system in the UK is that the House of Lords consists of peers that are either hereditary or appointed. Having this in place is undemocratic as the people do not have a say on who sits in the Lords (hereditary peers). Its threatens legitimacy and authority as peers are important, they are the people who approve of whether a bill becomes the law of the land.

Capitalist democracy is an almost oxymoron, as the rich end up gaining political power, this is done through lobbying, influencing the media. Capitalist democracy clearly is functional by the apparent success of the western world, nonetheless it is evident that it hinders complete, idealist democracy. The funding of a political campaign can sway public opinion for or against a party. The mere fact that money can influence your way into power is not democratically justifiable. In recent times, the amount of attraction a political advert receives correlates with the amount of votes that political party gains. Although this doesn’t mean that it will serve the countries best interest, as a more favourable party that does not have the same level of funding may be ignored. An example of the way political adverts can manipulate the public can be seen through the Brexit campaign: ‘leaving the EU will save £350million a day’ this is misleading and definitely impacted the results of the referendum.

On the other hand, despite having these problems with the current democratic system we have alternatives to these issues, such as forming a pressure group. Pressure groups are organisations that seek to impact legislative bodies. This is be done by ‘mobilising public opinion’ (ref 3) and representing minorities, typically in cases where the government failed to represent these small groups/communities. If electorates feel that the government is not fully representing them, they can often join or create a pressure group and gain a reasonable level of power and influence policy making.

Another benefit of having representative democracy is that the people elected are skilled and experienced in their field of work. Everyone is entitled to vote, all votes have the same value regardless of background or wealth. Consequently, the political party that is elected has the legitimacy and authority to act on behalf of the nation.

In conclusion, I do not believe that democracy is the best form of government and there are a lot of disadvantages of democracy due to the fact that the voter turnout in the UK 2017 general election was 68.7%. This creates a undemocratic government as 31% of the public are not voting and therefore are not being represented. Even though, this is more then half the country turning out to vote if you compare this to another western country such as Australia where the voter turnout is 94% there is a huge margin between the two countries. In Australia, only 6% are not being represented, such a low percentage is highly favourable. It is apparent that democracy is the ideal form of political system as it empowers the public and is holds the authority accountable for their actions. As Abraham Lincoln once suggested in his Gettysburg address, democracy is ideal political system for the people and gives the public the ability to impact legislation. Additionally, citizens are ultimately able to decide who represents them, this is sort after as even with representation people are given the opportunity to scrutinise authority and ensure that absolute power does not lead to corruption.         

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