How effectively does representative democracy operate in the UK?
The UK is officially a representative democracy. The electorate vote for a party to govern and represent the UK every five years. They also vote for candidates to represent their constituencies in Parliament. Both the national government and the local governments make decisions for the electorate and are given legitimacy to do so. However, it can be argued that the representative system is not fully carried out in the UK.
Britain follows a representative system because most citizens over the age of 18 have the opportunity to elect our national and local government. These elections are free and are carried out using the first-past-the-post system, which means that the party with the highest number of seats wins. It also means that generally we are governed by one party, which increases stability; for example, since 1900 there have only been three coalition governments in power. This also means we are represented by one set of policies rather than two different sets.
However, the first-past-the-post system can be seen to distort the results, as the government in power will almost never have the majority of votes. For example, in the 2005 election Labour had 35.2% of the votes and they still won, because they had more seats than the other parties. Furthermore, the actual turnout was only 61.4%, so they were only representing around a third of the population. In this sense, representative democracy does not operate effectively in the UK as most of the population did not vote for the winning party.
Britain follows a representative system because we are all represented by MPs in Parliament who will take care of local problems and take important grievances to the government. When we vote for these MPs, we give them the legitimacy to make decisions for the constituency but expect them to take the majority opinion into consideration. For example, if someone believes they are being unfairly treated by the...