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  • AQA Component1, Section Democracy and participation

  • Edexcel Component 1: Democracy: participation crisis

Background: what you need to know

This article highlights several features of the UK political system, which the author regards as unsatisfactory from a democratic point of view. Among these are the following:

  1. The convention that the winner of the Conservative party leadership contest automatically becomes Prime Minister, if the party is in office at the time, without any input from the electorate — this has applied four times since 2016.

  2. The excessive size and unelected nature of the House of Lords, membership of which is dictated largely by the patronage of party leaders

  3. The weakness of checks and balances, with major constitutional changes being made by a simple vote rather than (as in the US) being subject to a complex process of amendment, with deliberately high barriers

If you are studying the US politics and government option, the article also offers some interesting comparisons between the two countries’ political systems.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

No, British democracy isn’t safer than America’s

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘The UK’s democratic system is in need of thorough reform.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • Evaluate the view that the UK’s democratic system needs thorough reform.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: Remember that you need to write a balanced answer. The article is thought-provoking and deliberately provocative. Think of arguments that could be deployed in defence of the UK’s democratic system. For example, the composition of the second chamber may be questionable but the UK constitution ensures that it takes second place to the elected House of Commons — how is this achieved?

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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