Political participation in a representative democracy

Length: 4 Pages 1051 Words

In a representative democracy, every person does not directly contribute to the governing of the state. Instead, representatives are elected to make decisions on behalf of the people. In Britain, MP’s are elected by constituencies throughout the country, each MP representing the people of his or her constituency. In this essay I shall discuss the importance of political participation by the citizens, and how this relates to the role of the representative. Political participation can take a wide range of forms. Voting, be the easiest and most basic form, is also the most important form of participation. Other ways a citizen could be involved with politics include demonstrating, writing to a representative or joining a pressure group. However if citizens participate in only one way, they should vote. Voting is very important as it provides the government with a legitimate claim to power, and therefore can implement laws and policies with authority. Without this authority, laws are continually broken and the government cannot successfully lead the country. Therefore the act of voting is very important in a representative democracy. However, the importance of voting can vary according to what role the representative is seen to ha Continue...

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Therefore if the role of the representative is to act on behalf of the people and not their own conscience, political participation is very important. Therefore when a representative acts in this way and represents his constituency's feelings rather than their own, this can be seen to be true democracy at work, because the will of the majority should always result, so the state is being ruled by the people and not a small elite. The representative is held accountable by regular elections, and if the people do not believe they are acting responsibly then that representative is voted out of their position. This therefore goes someway in ensuring that the representative does in fact listen to the electorate most of the time. This would involve getting a response from the electorate regarding particular issues, and then representing this response when called to do so by government. Although it is the primary way that people express their views in a representative democracy, there are many other ways of communicating. Communication with a representative that acts on his or her own conscience will often prove ineffective, and so participation here is less important. Even though they may not be strictly acting on behalf of those who voted, they are still held accountable and therefore this encourages representatives to listen to the views of the constituency. If a representative acts of their own conscience and according to their own beliefs then it becomes even more important to elect the right representative. This approach would be seen by many to be undemocratic, because it is not guaranteed that the views of the people will be taken into account. No matter what approach the representative takes, political participation is always important. There are two roles that a representative could adopt. Therefore, in this first approach, the views of the majority of the constituency should always be represented by its representative. Voting is not the only way in which people can participate politically.


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