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Should Referendums Be More Widely Used In The Uk?

1019 words - 5 pages

A referendum is a popular vote where people are asked to determine important political or constitutional issues directly and they are conducted nationally, regionally, and locally. An example of a referendum is the 2011 vote on changing the first past the post system to proportional representation. The public have one vote each and the referendum focuses on a single yes or no question. As a form of direct democracy, many countries such as the United Kingdom use referendums. In this essay I will discuss for and opposing views on whether referendums should be used more widely in the UK.

Referendums are used to further democracy and in particular, direct democracy. Political parties in ...view middle of the document...

Many people rely on the information that the media supply. As this information is likely to be over simplistic, the tabloids may have a disproportionate influence over the result.
Another view is that referendums should be used more widely in the UK as people are more likely to accept decisions they have made and so it is a good way of settling issues when the government are undecided or split. An example of one referendum where the public had a particularly strong view on the subject is in 2008 in Manchester. There was a referendum on whether or not a congestion charge should be introduced, 78.8% of the people who voted were opposed to the idea of this. In some particular referendums, much like the congestion charge topic in Manchester, the percentage of people who vote for one side is so high that, had there not been referendums, politicians may have made completely the wrong decision. Politicians deciding the issue themselves may sometimes lead to serious public discontent, jeopardising the public popularity and electoral prospects of the party.

On the other hand, although referendums are a practical way of settling issues when the government are unable to make a decision, sometimes the turnout is particularly low and the vote may not win by a huge percentage. An example of this is in Wales where the question posed was ‘Should the Welsh Assembly be given wide law making powers, thus extending devolution?’ In this case, 64.4% of people in Wales did not vote. Therefore despite the fact that 27% more people voted ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’, this was only out of the 35.6% of people who actually voted. This is only a fairly minor percentage of population in Wales. As so many people did not voice their views, the question of whether there should have been a referendum on the subject in the first place may be posed. In all, referendums can be an easier way for the government to have a clear view on what choice should be made...

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