Government and politics helpWatch
"Explain the term pluralism used in the extract"
Pluralism in the extract refers to voter choice in combination with a free press, in the sense that a free press in the UK can help change a voters voting preference. For example, the 2010 leaders debates ahead of the general election gave UK voters more pluralism, as they had a wider spectrum of choice due to the role of free press.
"Using your own knowledge as well as the extract, consider the role played by the mass media in uk general elections"
The term "mass media" refers to multiple forms of free media in UK modern society, such as TV networks, social media, newspapers etc. As shown in the 2010 and 2015 UK general elections, mass media has a huge impact in determining how people vote in the election, and ultimately the outcome. In the extract, it is stated that the leaders debates had a huge impact, evident from the statistic "one in four voters changed their mind on where to vote after the initial debate". This serves to prove the huge impact that the media plays in dictating voting behaviour, because in the long run, approximately 25% of the electorate were influenced.
In addition to the influence of the debates via television, social media arguably has just as much of a role in influencing voting behaviour at general elections. As of now, over 90% of the UK population has access to some form of social media, whether it be from a smartphone or computer, which allows them to have their political views challenged. Social media serves as a platform in which politicians can interact directly with the general public, which can give people a clearer view into the inner workings of the political system, open MPs to more scrutiny and possibly even incentivise a change in voting preference.
""There is no participation crisis in the UK"" discuss"
The term "participation" in an umbrella term used to list the different ways in which people can take part in UK politics. This can be in the form of joining a political party, pressure group, or just simply turning up to vote, the most common form of political participation being voting. As of 2016, voter turnout was approximately 66%, which isn't very high compared to our highest turnout figures of 82% in 1950. From this, it can be said that we have a problem with participation in the UK, but not a crisis.
It can be argued that the UK is becoming more of a direct democracy, with the use of "e-petitions" on social media. Since these petitions are more open to the public, it serves as an example of increasing levels of political participation. For example, the fairly recent petition that gained over 100000 signatures to ban Donald Trump from the UK was discussed in parliament, which disproves the statement that there is no participation crisis in the UK.
Throughout the past 20 years, statistics of voter turnout have been recorded, and have seen a gradual increase 2001. In 2001, voter turnout was just under 60%, however as of 2015, voter turnout had increased to 66/67% which goes to show that there is no participation crisis in the UK, otherwise there would've been a declining rate of voter turnout figures. Although the increase in voter turnout is arguably only marginal, it is unfair to say it signifies a "crisis", instead it is fairer to say it is only a problem.
Although turnout figures are rising, other forms of political participation have seen a sharp decline, such as party membership figures. A study carried out by Parry Et Al concluded that young people in the UK engage in political activity 80% less than young people in the USA, which can lead to less overall political participation in the future, which means problems such as "tyranny of the minority" can take place. This would mean that UK society would be less representative and ultimately unfair, which could lead some people to believe that there is a participation crisis in the UK.
Prior to Blair gaining power in 1997, there were a lot of safe seats across the UK, which acted as an incentive for "voter hapathy". This is where people don't turn out to vote because they are already happy with current government, in combination with the fact that they knew Labour were going to win in the area anyway. It was that attitude that decreased turnout figures, and it is still apparent that it happens today in many safe seats, regardless of the party. Apathetic attitudes are also sparked by the belief that all parties are the same, with policies being only marginally similar, which could be a huge reason for not only the declining number of voter turnouts but also party membership too.
Overall, it isn't fair to say the UK has a participatory crisis, as that would show voter turnout sharply decreasing, and party membership declining rapidly, whereas in actual fact, voter turnout is slowly but surely rising, and party membership is merely stagnating as of 2014, meaning it is much fairer to label out current political participation as a problem rather than a crisis.
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