January 2009 Elections&Pressure Groups

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  • January 2009 Elections& Pressure Groups
    • Outline the workings of the additional member system
      • A proportion of the seats are elected by first past the post
      • The rest of the seats are elected through a regional list system
      • In the list system, voters choose between parties not candidates
      • Seats in the list section are awarded according to the proportion of votes for each party, adjusted according to the extent to which parties are discriminated against under FPTP
    • How has the use of AMS affected party representation in the UK?
      • It has meant that a wider and more diverse range of political parties have been elected than under FPTP
      • It has revived and increased representation for the Conservative Party in Scotland especially but also in Wales
      • It has enhanced the representation of the Green Party
      • Introduces the fact that single party majorities are highly unlikely with AMS
    • Should proportional representation be introduced for elections to the House of Commons?
      • Under the current FPTP system, power tends to end up with one party no matter how small its majority MPs have been elected despite 75% of their constituency voting against them
      • A more proportional system would give minority parties and independent candidates a better chance of getting into parliament
      • Fairer treatment of minority parties and independent candidates
      • Gives extremist parties power and a voice e.g. UKIP
      • Produces weak coalition governments rather than strong majority governments which arguably can lead to indecision, compromise and legislative paralysis
      • Reduce accountability to voters, as an ousted party of government can retain office by finding new coalition partners after an election
    • Using examples distinguish between sectional and promotional pressure groups
      • Sectional: represent a section of society, they are interested only in the interests of that group and have narrow goals E.G. CONFEDERATION OF BRITISH INDUSTRY, British Bankers Association, Royal College of Nurses
      • Promotional: groups that are concerned with a cause or an issue, they are open to all members of the community and believe their cause or issue will benefit community/society E.G. Freinds of Earth, Unlock Democracy, Action on Smoking and Health
    • Explain the methods used by pressure groups to influence government
      • They may protest and demonstrate in high profile venues such as Governmental offices and parliament
      • Insider groups can be said to have ease of access in directly contacting both ministers and civil servants E.G. National Union of Farmers
      • Sectional groups may strike to disrupt economic activity to move the government
    • To what extent do pressure groups promote pluralist democracy
      • The existence of vaired and numerous pressure groups support the theory of pluralism
      • Opposing pressure groups compete in open forum for public and governmental attention
      • The government openly accept the existence of pressure groups and involve them in decision making
      • Pressure group activity can be viewed as elitist from several perspectives
      • Governments favour certain groups who share their views or are at the time 'electorally' beneficial to their cause
      • Some groups can afford advertising to get their message across and thus they buy power


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