) How and Why Has the Uk Democratic System Been Criticised?
Democracy is seen as one of the ultimate ideals that modern civilizations strive to create, or preserve. Democracy as a system of governance is supposed to allow extensive representation and inclusiveness of as many people and views as possible to feed into the functioning of a fair and just society. Democratic principles run in line with the ideals of universal freedoms such as the right to free speech. Importantly, democracy supposedly serves to check unaccountable power and manipulation by the few at the expense of the many, because fundamentally democracy is seen as a form of governance by the people, for the people.
This is often implemented through elected representatives, which therefore requires free, transparent, and fair elections, in order to achieve legitimacy. However, even in established democracies, such as the UK’s democratic system there are pressures that threaten various democratic foundations. A democratic system’s openness also allows it to attract those with vested interests to use the democratic process as a means to attain power and influence, even if they do not hold democratic principles dear. This may also signal a weakness in the way some democracies are set up.
In principle, there may be various ways to address this, but in reality once power is attained by those who are not genuinely support democracy, rarely is it easily given up. Present statistics show that the voter turnout for the UK Central Govt. General Elections have been reducing continuously during the past elections. This is how the citizens are criticizing the democratic system in the UK, by not voting. This is known as “Voters Apathy”. The many criticisms bring about the voters apathy making each newly elected government less legitimate than the before.
Numerous reasons have brought the decline in voters turn out. These reasons can be identified as following; There is no true democracy in the upper chamber of legislature in the UK Government. There are still hereditary Peers sitting in the House of Lords. Although the number has been reduced due to the reforms of the House of Lords. But however the rest of the Peers are also NOT elected but personally selected and appointed a Lord. How Is it so that ELECTED members from the House of Commons pass a bill only to go to the Second Chamber of UN-ELECTED Peers to pass, amend, delay or reject!.
The citizens feel the Peers should not play a role in the parliament as they are not elected and if they are not elected they are certainly not a democratic chamber of legislature in the UK Govt. The present system of voting, FPTP is seen as a failure in maintaining democracy. Many thousands of votes are wasted as the majority has the upper hand in the present system of FPTP and the minority party’s hardly ever win seats in parliament in comparison to the received number of votes. A Liberal Democracy ensures the rights of individuals and minorities to be balanced against the majority rule.
How is this possible when the minority parties have not been allowed to have any seats in parliament according to the present system. We can look at some evidence from the 2005 General Election; Scottish National Party won 6 seats, (1% of total seats in parliament) with votes 412,267 which is only 1. 6% total votes casted. The UK Independent Party won NO seats however polled 603,398 votes, 2. 4% total votes. This shows the votes being wasted and also provides evidence as to how undemocratic the current UK democratic system is.
Further when we look at the recent statistics of the 2010 General Election in UK we can see that the Scottish National Party won the same no. of seats and polled almost the same amount of votes as the previous election. In contrast the UK Independent Party still won NO seats but gained a significant increase of 300,000 votes. This shows us the struggle of the minority in the UK , but unfortunately the system does not allow the minority to be heard showing that pluralism which must exists in a liberal democracy does not exsist. Forcing the citizens to be fed up of the system. This can be Analyzed as the “legitimacy crisis”.