Pressure groups

  • Created by: dbrennan
  • Created on: 27-05-19 16:33

How do pressure groups promote democracy?

Supplementing electoral democracy:

  • Pressure groups keep government in touch with public opinion between elections and give a political voice to minority groups as well as represent concerns that are overlooked by political parties. 
  • Pressure groups force gov to engage in ongoing dialogue with the people. 
  • Elections only take place every few years, pressure groups are constant. 
  • Pressure groups give a political voice to the minority groups.
  • They represent concerns that are overlooked by political parties.
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How do pressure groups promote democracy?


  • Decline in electoral turnout and decline in party membership= democratic deficit.
  • Increase in pressure group membership supplements this democratic deficit.
  • Single-issue politics engages the wider public much more than convential politics.
  • Younger people and disilluisoned people have become more engaged in pressure groups. 
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How do pressure groups promote democracy?


  • Promote political debate, discussion and argument.
  • Electorate become better-informed, more educated and more engaged. 
  • Improves the quality of public policy.
  • Offer alternative view points.
  • Speak truth to power.
  • Specialist knowledge and expertise.
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How do pressure groups promote democracy?


  • Widen distribution of political power.
  • Cannot be a single group that is permanently dominant because they are constantly competing.
  • Counterveiling power.
  • Public policy can be developed through an ongoing social debate between inter-competing groups. 
  • For example: Trade Unions developed in respone to the growth of business power and Pro-abortion groups via anti-abortion groups.
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How do pressure groups threaten democracy?

Increase political inequality:

  • Tend to empower those who are already powerful.
  • Most powerful pressure groups tend to be ones that possess money, expertise, institutional leverage and privileged links to the government. 
  • Some pressure groups are much more powerful than others on the basis of the national or governmental issue that they are campaigning for.
  • For example: the influence of major corporations cannot be compared with the influence of minor ones like trade unions, charities or environmental groups.
  • Strengthen the voice of the wealthy: give them influence over the government as a result of their access to financial, educational and organisational resources.
  • Large sections of society can be excluded: difficult to take part or organise (the elderly, asylum seekers, the homeless etc). 
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How do pressure groups threaten democracy?

Non-legitmate power:

  • Pressure group leaders: unelected.
  • Unaccountable to the public.
  • Even if leaders are elected, it is done on the basis of a low turnout.
  • Few groups operate on the basis of internal democracy.
  • Dominated by a small number of senior professionals: unrepresentative.
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How do pressure groups threaten democracy?

Behind the scenes influence:

  • Not subject to scrutiny or accountability.
  • Insider groups perform their political influence in secret.
  • Insider groups are hidden away from public and media scrutiny.
  • Unaccountable power.
  • Undermines parliamentary democracy.
  • Insider links between groups and executive bypass Parliament: Commons do not get to discuss the issue.
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How do pressure groups threaten democracy?

Tryanny of the minority:

  • Represent minorities.
  • Prevent tyranny of the majority.
  • As pressure groups become more powerful, government will find it difficult to please the national interest as a result of a pressure group policy being legislised.
  • Through civil disobedience, pressure groups hold the country to ransom: governmnet more inclined to listen in order to protect the nation.
  • When civil disobedience takes place, pressure groups are operating against the democratic process. 
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  • Work closely with the government to influence practical legislation.
  • Government also works with and checks on the practicality of corporative ideas.
  • Coprorations can use lobbying to their advantage through their economic influence.
  • May pressurise the government to give them more favourable legislation/financial assistance by threatening to relocate.
  • Could say this is undermining democracy.
  • For example: Nissan & Ford proposed to relocate their manufacturing plants elsewhere, which would increase unemployment in the UK and hinder economic strength.
  • In the EU referendum: HSBC, Burberry and Ford campaigned to remain in the UK: jobs, wages and economic stability would be threatened.
  • Minority of coporations: Dyson campaigned to leave. The leave campaign and the people dismissed the majority of corporations by voting leave. 
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