Describe the advantages and disadvantages of referendums

Topics: United Kingdom, Democracy, Election Pages: 2 (862 words) Published: October 13, 2014
Describe the Advantages and Disadvantages of using Referendums in the UK? (25 marks) A referendum is a vote given to the public which is determined by the government, and is used to help answer an important political or constitutional question to which the public must vote a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. One advantage of using referendums in the UK is that they enable the public that are over 18 to approve or disprove important constitutional changes. An example of a one being used for this purpose is the 1998 referendum which was used to determine whether Blair and the Labour Party should devolve power to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Devolution in Scotland and Wales was introduced in 1998 as the majority of the public voted ‘yes’ in terms of wanting more power. Furthermore the UK government secured the consent of the people of Northern Ireland for a new devolved assembly in the province in 1998. Arguably, this makes the UK more democratic as the public have a direct say on the decisions that the government makes and although they are not legally binding, they effectively force the government and parliament to conform to the public’s outcome. This infers that they can help to entrench constitutional change in a system which has an uncodified, flexible constitution and enables the public to shape the path in which Britain is heading. Additionally, as well as including the public on issues which the government make, it also stops the country from being an ‘elective dictatorship’. This term refers to the idea that once a government gets into power, the public lose their say and ability to express their opinions, enabling the government to make decisions on our behalf instead of consulting with us. This therefore suggests that referendums allow the public to have more power, as there is only a general election every five years. This means that the public vote for a party and are unable to change anything once they are in power. Referendums are used to ensure that...
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