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The UK as a Liberal Democracy

By arsha1303 Nov 07, 2015 759 Words
Vlad Gordeev

To what extent is the UK a Liberal Democracy? [25]
Liberal democracy is a political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of liberalism. The liberal aspect of the term is derived from the fact that elections as well as political processes are done freely and in a fair form. The democratic aspect of the term is derived from the idea of people power, the citizens having the right to choose representatives and participate in political decisions as well as having an influence on the government. The UK can be seen as a liberal democracy however this is not true to an extent.

A democracy entitles the citizens of the state to participate in government decisions, such as election, as well as controlling how the government is running. The UK has been a democracy ever since the signing of the Magna Carta. The UK currently has a representative democracy which is not the purest form of democracy. It involves the citizens electing a representative for their area, or constituency who will epitomise them in the main governing body, in the UK’s case its Westminster. The UK is also democratic due to the fixed term elections that occur every 5 years. This prevents the parties from running at specific terms that make their manifesto and legislation look beneficial in the publics eye. The UK’s democracy is most visibly noticed in its elections. Nearly all of the population that is 18 or above can vote with some exceptions. The fact that citizens also have political sovereignty over referendums outcome is also a noticeable feature of the UK’s democratic status.

It is viable to argue that the UK is liberal. After Tony Blair’s victory in 1997, the liberal party decided to pass several constitutional reforms. Reforms passed such as the devolution act in 1998 which gave power to the Welsh Assembly and created a Scottish parliament. In 1999 the the Northern Ireland Assembly was given power under the Good Friday Agreement. The fact that the UK has decided to pass these reforms display the liberal side of the UK. Additionally during the 2010 coalition government, the leading party proposed to created further constitutional reforms. An example of a constitutional reform proposed during the 2010 coalition was the HoL reform 2012 involving “Replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber with considerably fewer members than the current House.” The HoL reform displays the governments liberal attitude towards the people having a free and fair form of government election. Additionally the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act in 2005 allowed the government to be transparent in the eyes of the public. This is also contributes greatly to the extent of the UK being a liberal country. The current liberal democracy seen in the UK can be criticised on several fronts. The UK has a First Past the Post voting system which involves the majority winner to come first in the over all election which gives them the majority of the seats in Parliament. The problem with this voting system is the fact that minorities are always oppressed which is contradictory to the liberal democracy that is established in the UK. An AV system was proposed during the 1997 liberal government through a constitutional reform. This proposal was declined even though the AV system would eliminate the suppression of the minorities. Additionally another criticism of the liberal democracy is the fact that the representatives may not represent the citizens views as well as the citizens would like, thus the UK experiences a participation crisis which prevents the country from being a liberal democracy due to the fact that the citizens cannot participate hence lacks the people power aspect of democracy. The participation figures have been at their lowest in 2001 at 59.4%.

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Vlad Gordeev

Vlad Gordeev
In conclusion, the UK can labelled as a liberal democracy even though it possess several flaws with its system. The UK possess the key features of the liberal democracy such as free elections and the right to participate in political processes. The flaws such as the suppression of the minority is often not resolved due to the lack of public support on the specific solutions such as the AV system reform in the 1997 constitutional reforms. The UK successfully manages to run free and fair elections without any visible corruption. Hence it is fair to say that the UK can successfully be labelled as a liberal democracy even with the flaws attached.

1

Vlad Gordeev

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