RAISING THE CAPACITIES OF YOUTH NGOS FOR RURAL YOUTH PARTICIPATION IN DEMOCRATIC LIFE – VOTE!

Do you know what is DEMOCRACY? 

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CARDS ON DEMOCRACY

  • 1. what is democracy?

    democracy refers to political systems whether people are either directly or indirectly involved in decision-making

    it means rule by the people

    two types of democracy: direct and representative

  • 2. features of a democracy

    everyone is subject to and equal before the law

    everyone gets to have their say (e.g. via voting in elections and referendums)

    universal suffrage — every eligible person has the right to vote

    free media

    freedom of speech

    accountability and transparency

    equal rights and protection of minorities

    political office is open to all

    secret ballots and fair elections

    a choice of parties and the existence of opposition

    government should serve the interests of the people

  • 3. types of democracy

    direct democracy

    representative democracy

  • 4. what is direct democracy?

    individuals express their opinions themselves and have direct influence on decisions made, instead of having representatives act on their behalf

    this system originated in Athens, Ancient Greece and is still used in Switzerland today

    examples of direct democracy = referendums, strikes and petitions

  • 5. what is representative democracy?

    elected representatives act on behalf of the people (their constituents) to exercise political choice

    they make decisions and speak for them

    this is the most common form of democracy in existence today

    example of representative democracy = MPs in the House of Commons

  • 6. features of direct democracy

    individuals directly express their opinion themselves

    citizens are more active in decision-making as representatives are not acting on their behalf

    based on the concept of majority rule

    when voting, people directly vote and that vote will be counted and have influence on final decisions

    not elective

  • 7. features of representative democracy

    citizens elect representatives to make decisions on their behalf, they pass authority to them

    all adult citizens have the right to vote for representatives

    elections for representatives are free and fair

    representatives do not act as delegates or merely take instructions, they are expected to use their own judgement too

    if they do not satisfy voters, representatives can be held to account and removed at the next election

    based on the concept of majority rule

  • 8. advantages of direct democracy

    everyone’s voice can be heard because the people have a direct say in decision-making and can exercise their opinions themselves, they are also more active in decision-making

    gives equal weight to all votes, unlike in a representative democracy where the varying sizes of constituencies means votes do not all have equal value

    encourages political participation by expecting people to take their citizen duties seriously by getting involved in politics, this then develops a higher sense of community and encourages genuine debate as well as leading to people becoming more politically informed and educated

    removes the need for representatives as people take responsibility for their own decisions

    close connection between people and the government

    usually if people are unhappy with a decision they can demand a referendum

  • 9. disadvantages of direct democracy

    impractical in large, heavily populated modern states, where decision-making is complicated and needs to take place regularly, because it is a time-consuming system that is not easy to control

    many people will not want to or feel qualified to take part in decision-making and the high amount of involvement required may result in voter fatigue, which means that the final result may not be representative of the whole population — political activists and those with interests will decide what happens rather than the whole country

    open to manipulation by the most powerful, influential and articulate speakers who can persuade people to support their view point (e.g. demagogues in Athens), this also means that the system can be abused by those advocating in favour of hate and discrimination

    tyranny of the majority is more likely to take place because it is not mediated by parliamentary institutions so minority viewpoints may be disregarded

    divisions may occur between those of different viewpoints

  • 10. advantages of representative democracy

    the only practical system for large states where issues are complex and often need rapid responses (e.g. deployment of troops) because it speeds up decision-making and does not require multiple referendums

    there is a wide range of choice of representative, there are clear parties to choose from as well as pressure groups representing different interests, this promotes genuine debate and encourages a pluralist democracy

    politicians are professionals and are better informed than the average citizen about political issues, so will do a better and more efficient job at making crucial decisions on behalf of the people

    elections allow representatives to be held to account and removed if they do not satisfy voters, these elections are free and fair and anyone can vote

    reduces the chance of minority rights being over written by tyranny of the majority as the system includes better and more safeguards for minorities

    less voter fatigue as voting is only required ever so often

  • 11. disadvantages of representative democracy

    may lead to reduced participation as the people hand over responsibility to politicians and no longer feel that it’s necessary to engage in politics as it’s been done for them by MPs

    parties and pressure groups are often run by people pursuing their own agendas, they may not truly represent the interests of the people, may be influenced by party loyalty or have links to businesses, only interested in themselves rather than being loyal to the electorate, corrupt or incompetent

    minorities can still be disregarded and unrepresented because politicians are more likely to follow the views of the majority to secure an election, the system is still based on the concept of majority rule

    politicians can avoid accountability, especially since elections in the UK are held five years apart, this makes it hard to hold them to account if they’re making decisions that you do not agree with

    first past the post is used in elections which means votes are wasted if they do not go to the winning party, this can lead to voters becoming disenchanted and furthermore, smaller parties have very small chances of being properly represented in parliament due to the two party system, which further adds to the issue of disenchantment

  • 12. example of direct democracy: ATHENS

    earliest known direct democracy

    adult male citizens had the right to take part in decision-making at public meetings/assemblies

    they were chosen to take part via a random lottery and from a pool of citizen volunteers

    meetings took place several times a month and during them, people would have their say and propose laws

    meetings were overlooked by a 500 member governing council called a boule

    parties and groups were prevented from forming so the process was more fair and equal

    no elections except for jobs that require a lot of skill, such as military leaders

  • 13. example of direct democracy: ATHENS; advantages and disadvantages

    + increased political involvement as people saw it as their duty to attend meetings and so wanted to take part

    + tried to represent the whole population

    - excluded women, slaves foreigners, which is unrepresentative of the whole population (only 10% could have a say)

    - Plato called it chaotic and anarchic with no real rule or order, making it impractical as a regular means of decision-making

    - demagogues were the loudest and therefore the only ones heard, they were often manipulative and abused the system for their own gain

  • 14. what is a pluralist democracy?

    a type of democracy where the government makes decisions as a result of the interplay of various ideas and contrasting arguments from competing groups and organisations

    there is a wide range of political parties, pressure groups, political ideologies and opinions to choose from — they all coexist instead of there being a single elite

  • 15. examples of direct democracy in a representative system

    national referendums 

  • 16. what is a participation crisis?

    a lack of engagement with the political system

    evident in low voter turnout and a decline in party membership

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