Government & Politics Essay To what extent is there a democratic deficit in the UK? There is an argument that the government has the power and right to change laws and represent people without necessarily having to be elected. This can also be known as ‘Democratic deficit’. An example of democratic deficit is the House of Lords. The members in the House of Lords aren’t elected but they get to make laws and represent the people. The members in House of Lords are usually given their seats hereditarily so many people found it unfair that they’re not elected into the Parliament but they can make decisions and laws on our behalf.
On the other hand, people may argue with the fact that there is the House of Commons as well as the House of Lords and the House of Commons has more power than the House of Lords has. H of C can make laws and policies without consulting H of L, whereas H of L has to consolidate H of C with the policy or law they want to pass. There has also been some sort of reform in the H of L to make it fairer, there are only 92 hereditary lords left in the H of L so people may say this is an example of the UK not being a democratic deficit. In this essay I will be assessing for and against views of the UK being a democratic deficit.
Some people agree with this view that there is a democratic deficit in the UK because as I mentioned earlier the members in House of Lords aren’t elected, the head of state (Queen) can decide whether or not laws can be passed and practiced in the UK but she’s not elected and can reign as long as she stays alive for which some people find unfair because the laws she passes affects them. Another example of Democratic deficit is the European Union who makes regulations and decisions that has an effect on all the countries across Europe which includes the UK.
Some people think this is unfair because they make decisions that affect the way we live in the UK and they haven’t even been elected to do so; however others may say that they may not be elected but they do make laws and decisions that help the UK such as health, education, social security and social services. The EU being an example of democratic deficit can be argued both ways one being bad for people because they can make laws that the people don’t like but they have to follow them regardless and the other being the fact that the EU makes laws that helps the country as a whole such as education and health.
Judges can be said to be an example of democratic deficit because they aren’t elected by the people but they can make decisions that affect people’s lives. Judges can direct a verdict, they can interpret and apply the law and they can even make laws in some cases and all without even being elected. Some people may see this as unfair because judges can be biased and judgemental and sentence someone to more years than they deserve because they know that they can’t be fired.
However, some people may disagree with this because judges do what’s best for the society and for the people and if they didn’t sentence harshly or fairly, criminals would be out in the public repeating their acts. However, some people may argue against this by saying that there are juries there in the court to make sure that the sentencing is fair and the trial isn’t sabotaged or biased. Juries also give their verdict on how they found the criminal/defendant so the decision isn’t fully dependent on the judge. Low participation rates in the UK are one of the features of democratic deficit.
In the 2010 general elections more than 16 million% of people could have voted but chose not to. The overall turnout in the UK as a whole was 65%. In 2005 the voting turnout was 61% approximately, which means over a period of 5 years the percentage has risen by 4% over the UK. This shows that there is an in fact low participation rate in the UK and this is due to situations such as First Past the Post. On the other hand, others may disagree because the turnout of participation has increased in the last two general elections. In 2001 the overall turnout of participation was 59%, and in 2005 the overall turnout of participation was 61%.
This shows that the participation in the UK is rising. There is also some other forms of participation in the UK that have increased such as boycotting, petitions etc. These have gone up over the past years with more people becoming more interested in politics. FPTP is an electoral voting system based on constituencies, for a party to win a general election outright they must win an absolute majority of constituencies. FPTP is used for elections to the House of Commons. FPTP has some advantages like the results can be calculated quickly and makes the transfer of power from one party to another much easier.
However, it also has some disadvantages like smaller parties are disadvantaged because the number of votes they get isn’t reflected in the number of seats they gain. Also, tactical voting which is not voting for a preferred party but to defeat a bad party or to vote for a least bad one will become more likely and there will be wasted votes which is a vote that doesn’t affect the outcome of the election either because it’s for a losing candidate or because a candidate already has lots of votes which can lead to voter apathy.
This can be seen as unfair because third parties are usually disadvantaged because of the number of seats they get compared to the number of votes and because some voters’ votes may not be counted because it is for the losing candidate or because the candidate already has enough votes. This gives voters reason to tactically vote instead. As you can see throughout the essay there have been a lot of arguments for and against the view that the UK is becoming a democratic deficit.
However, for arguments have seemed to outweigh against arguments by a cm. We have heard that House of Lords not being elected, the Head of State, The EU, Judges, Low participation rates and voting turnouts, and First Past the Past have all been examples of why there is a democratic deficit in the UK, while Juries, Increased turnout rates, Forms of participation increased, House of Commons, and reform of House of Lords have all been examples of why there isn’t a democratic deficit in the UK.
In my opinion, I think that the UK does have a democratic deficit and my reasons for thinking so are revealed in this essay. I think the UK does have a democratic deficit in the UK but it only has it to a certain extent which is where the arguments against it balance it to not make it a democratic deficit.