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Essay : To What Extent Does Democracy In The Uk Suffer From A ‘Participation Crisis’?

1353 words - 6 pages

Essay : To what extent does democracy in the UK suffer from a ‘participation crisis’?
Political participation is defined as opportunities for and tendencies of the people to become involved in the political process. At a minimum level this will involve voting, but may also involve active work in political parties and pressure groups. At the higher/highest level it implies standing for public office. However with regards to the United Kingdom suffering from a participation crisis, I would like to agree. Simply because, there has been a low turnout at general elections, which undermines the mandate of the government and threatens the idea that the UK is a representative democracy. Between ...view middle of the document...

Older voters might participate in elections more because it is the form of participation that their generation is most used to, and which they value the most. However, if the current younger generations grow up continuing to be reluctant to vote, then, given enough time, our turnout levels could reach dangerously low figures. This shows that a reduction in participation of a specific age group, as well as overall, is a cause for concern and sequentially many would say that due to the smallness of these voting figures compared to 100 percent of the whole enfranchised population, the UK suffers from a participation crisis to a rather large extent as people are simply choosing not to get involved in voting, but it is not only the participation in general elections but there has also been a fall and local and European elections held since 1997.

Conversely, some more direct means of formal participation, such as the e-petition process, have proven popular with the public, The low participation does not mean that they don’t care about political issues, it could just be a reflection of the fact that people are choosing to participate in alternative ways Similarly, the country has now had reasonably low turnout for many years and yet, broadly speaking, governments have still been able to enact their policies and run the country without a crisis.
Generally, more people are losing interest and experiencing Political Apathy which causes citizens to not be moved from politics, losing their loyalty to party membership, this may be because they feel that this particular party is not putting some of the individual’s contributions into consideration which may discourage people to therefore support them and lose interest in voting. – Memberships of political parties continue to drop as people become less involved in formal politics In 2010, only 1.0% of the electorate was a member of the Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat parties. Where the Labour Party had over a million members in the 1950s, by 2010 it had approximately 193,000. Similarly, the Conservative Party had almost 3 million members in the 1950s, compared to around 130,000 to 150,000 in 2010. A similar idea is known as the Partisan Dealignment which means fewer people are “strongly attached” to a political party and the emotional bond of loyalty between voter and his/her party has decreased, implying that the electorate is becoming more volatile in its voting behaviour. In contrast, the participation of thousands of people in the huge number of pressure groups across the country suggests this simply isn’t true. People aren’t too busy to march against pension cuts, or against the Iraq War, or to protest the closing of local libraries and facilities so therefore they are not ‘too busy to vote’, they must be choosing not to vote for other reasons.
Power within our political parties has become so centralised that there is little incentive to join a political party or to campaign or vote for...

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