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To What Extent Does Democracy In The Uk Suffer From A Participation Crisis

1154 words - 5 pages

To what extent does democracy in the UK suffer from a ‘participation crisis’?
There has been a decrease in the general election turnouts, suggesting a participation crisis that can arguably cause the party that gains the position of govt. to lack legitimacy. In 2001 the general election turnout was 59 per cent. Furthermore, there has been a gradual decline in party membership numbers for the three main parties, signifying partisan dealignment, less than 1 per cent of the UK’s electorate is currently part of the Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dems. Additionally, participation in other areas of UK politics such as the election of MEP’s, is showing an obvious participation crisis, resulting in ...view middle of the document...

Finally, although there was a drop since 2001 for general election turnouts, the figures have been gradually increasing. Since 2001 the turnout for general elections in the UK has increased from 59 per cent to 65 per cent.
General election turnout supports the fact that the UK democracy is suffering from a participation crisis. Living in a pluralistic society this is a problem as, the party elected for govt. should effectively be representing the views and interests, of the majority of the electorate. Also, a low turnout causes the current govt. to lack legitimacy, as they have not been voted for by a considerable percentage of the electorate, especially as First Past the Post (FPTP) causes wasted votes. From 1945 to 1997 general election turnout had been above 70 per cent, in 2001 it dropped noticeable to 59 per cent and has not yet returned to the previous minimum. Additionally, there is a participation crisis in terms of members of the electorate, gaining party membership. This suggests a partisan dealignment, as a large number of the electorate have no affiliation with a political party. Less than 1 per cent of the UK’s electorate are currently part of the three main parties, Conservatives, Labour or Lib Dems. Having a 2.5 party system in the UK, this is problematic as being part of a party provides an avenue for the electorate, to voice their opinions on policies parties put forward for their manifesto, that if put into action will directly affect them, therefore, not providing effective representation of the members of the electorate voting for them. Moreover, the turnout and results of the MEP's election, further highlights the current participation crisis, in the UK. The voting system for the election of MEP's, is proportionally representative, which should result in equal representation of political parties in the UK. However, as the turnout is continuously low, the turnout for 2014 being 34 per cent, some parties tend to dominate UK representation for the EU. Currently UKIP, has the highest number of representatives, as UKIP do not want to remain a part of the EU, this is a problem as they lack legitimacy due to the low turnout. So, they may not effectively represent the views of the electorate, due to their standing on the EU. Additionally, the turnout for referendums has been low, highlighting the participation crisis for democracy in the UK. This is particularly poignant, as the results of these referendums when implemented will directly effect the electorate. The...

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