(Original post by lordharvey)
-What is democracy, a description as well as the positives and negatives of it
Democracy is "rule by the people" - the idea that every citizen has one vote and can elect and throw out governments and hold them accountable. In a broader sense, it is also the idea that a democratic country is free - has freedom of speech, action, and religion (but it is important not to confuse freedom and democracy). The major positive is that, in the words of Winston Churchill, it is the least worst system ever tried - the alternatives in recent history have included fascism or "autocracy", which is rule by one person. A negative is that it encourages governments to hand out welfare or other benefits in order to win votes, and some have pointed out that the growth of democracy has corresponded exactly with the growth of the welfare state.
-Direct democracy, the 3 main features, a description and two examples (referendums and e-petitions)
Direct democracy is when the people vote on issues themselves, so instead of voting for a government, they vote on issues themselves. In Britain a famous referendum was the 1975 referendum on membership of the European Economic Community, in which the people voted yes, and a more recent one is the referendum on switching to the AV electoral system, in which the people voted no. An e-petition is an online website where people leave signatures that show their support for a certain cause, and if a certain amount of signatures are collected, there is a debate in the House of Commons. The key thing to remember is that both of these things are not binding on the government - a government could ignore a referendum result or successful e-petition, but they would be foolish not to.
Representative democracy, the 3 main features, a description
Representative democracy is voting for a government to make decisions on behalf of you. In this country, our government is representative - we elect them and entrust them with political power to make decisions for us.
-The advantages and disadvantages of both representative and direct democracy including examples.
Representative, advantages: it would be too difficult to get citizens to vote on every issue as it would be expensive and time consuming; a representative government can appoint experts who know better than citizens. Disadvantages: a representative government can do things that many people do not support, eg the Iraq War, but under our political system that is a legitimate function.
Direct, advantages: it allows the voice of the people to be heard on specific issues, such as the electoral system. Disadvantages: it can lead to what is known as "tyranny of the majority" (< excellent phrase to learn and use in an exam, it got me high marks) - this means that when all the people vote they can sometimes vote to destroy individual rights, such as the Proposition 8 vote in California when a referendum result banned gay marriage.
-What is a referendum (5 marks)
A special type of vote where all the people have one vote each and decide on an issue - it is not an election where they decide on a government.
-Under what circumstances have referendums been held in the uk? (10 marks)
1975 EEC membership - turbulent period in foreign policy
2011 FPTP/AV vote - due to the Coalition government a referendum was used as a bargaining chip to get Lib Dem support
-the advantages and disadvantages of referendums
-Is britain a liberal democracy? (what sort of mark question is this likely to be please?)
A liberal democracy is a country that has free elections, a separation of powers (which means that there is a separate government, House of Commons/Lords (legislature), and set of judges), and often a constitution (basically a rulebook for governments). Some people would argue that Britain is not a liberal democracy because the government is drawn from the House of Commons, and we don't have a constitution that is written down for all to see. However I would argue we are a liberal democracy as we do have a constitution, it is just written in various different documents across history, and we also now have judges in the Supreme Court who are not allowed to sit in the House of Lords. This is a really difficult topic and you will come on to it in Unit 2, I would guess that it would probably be a 25 mark question simply because it has a yes/no format, they may re-word it as a 10 mark, but that is if it is even a question at all.
-The arguements for and against the reduction of poltical participation
Not entirely sure what you/your teacher means - surely all participation is good.
-How to improve political participation
Reduction of voting age, change in the electoral system, more/less elections (more - people would feel more in control; less - would lead to "democratic overload" where people get bored of voting)
-reducing the voting age, for/against
For: it would allow younger people to get more involved in politics, and some would argue that the fact they are excluded from the system has led to them feeling like outsiders and that has caused social problems among teenagers. Against: it would have to be accompanied by an increase in citizenship education, as many under 18s do not have a strong understanding of politics and may misuse their vote.
Power and authority: "power" is the ability to do something, "authority" is the right to do it. Kim Jong-il in North Korea had power because he was able to create policies that affected people's lives, but he had no authority in the Western sense because he was unelected. Tony Blair had power because he too could create policies that affected people's lives, but he also had authority - or "legitimacy" - because he was elected. There's a chance you could get asked on it, but it's the sort of thing that helps you understand the bigger picture rather than the individual topics.
Hope I helped