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Essentials Of Democracy In 1928 Essay

1582 words - 7 pages

Essentials of Democracy in 1928

Democracy is definable as a form of government where there is a fair
representation system, universal adult suffrage, the right of the
electorate to participate in the political process, freedom of speech
for all, a government dependant on majority support in the commons and
regular elections, free of corruption. In the eighteen hundreds
various events, such as the French revolution, made many Britons wary
of democracy, because of the radicalism and violence that had occurred
during them. However by 1900 politicians were eager to be seen as
champions of democracy.

The electoral system in Britain before the 1932 ...view middle of the document...


Rotten boroughs had generally been eliminated and the new
industrialists enfranchised, however the process remained the same
open vote, and there was a ten-pound property qualification, which
meant that, the majority of the working classes, who owned nothing,
could not vote. Also, it was still necessary to pay to stand for
election, and so almost all people who stood for election were still
aristocrats, landowners or businessmen. The act itself did not bring
democracy any closer but because of the standard wealth qualification
many put pressure for this limit to be lowered. The 1832 bill was the
first step along the path to democracy.

However it was not until 1867 that democracy actually gained a
foothold in Britain. The 1867 reform act lowered the standard wealth
qualification in cities and counties. All male householders and
lodgers paying ten pounds a year in burghs could vote as well as
five-pound landowners and occupants who paid an annual rateable value
of twelve-pound in the counties. Although this did enfranchise more
people (the electorate stood at two point five million) county
residents were still at a major disadvantage. There was still a
property qualification for voting, which meant that two-thirds of the
adult male population, the poorest male citizens, were left without a
vote. There was no female suffrage at all which meant that there was
still an inequality of the sexes. The 1867 act also redistributed the
seats. Fifty-two seats were lost from areas sparsely populated,
through the removal of the right to have an MP in certain areas, most
of which were in southern England. The freed seats were redistributed
to the more largely populated counties, large and growing urban areas,
one seat was given to London university and two to Scottish
universities, as well as five seats to larger constituencies. There
was still unevenness in constituency size; the constituencies were
still mainly based on geographical location rather than population
size. Although the franchise was widened there was still the problem
of the bribery and corruption-taking place in elections through the
continuation of open voting. The lack of limitation placed on
electioneering expenses meant that wealthier candidates had a distinct
advantage if they were willing to spend to enter parliament. And lack
of payment discouraged the working class would-be candidates. Although
this act was the first that really pushed for a fairer society it was
in reality no where near reaching democracy it still lacked major
democratic ideas such as universal adult franchise and elections free
of corruption. While the Second Reform Act gradually moved the nation
closer to Democracy, the electoral system still had to free itself
from bribery and corruption.

However the corruption in elections was to be...

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