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Government And Politics Revision Guide Essay

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AS Government
and Politics
Revision Guide
Unit 1: People and Politics
‘Of the Students, by the Students, for the Students’

Important Information:

* Your Unit 1 exam will make up 50% of your AS grade
* Your Unit 1 exam will make up 25% of your overall grade * The exam is 1 hour and 20 minutes (80 minutes)
* There will be a choice of four questions – one per topic * Each question has a 5 mark, a 10 mark and a 25 mark part * You have to answer two questions
* You must answer all three parts of both questions
* Remember to read the question carefully
* Ideally, spend 40 minutes on each question

Assessment Objectives
‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant institutions, processes, political concepts, theories and debates.’

‘Analyse and evaluate political information, arguments explanations, and identify parallels, connections, similarities and differences between aspects of the political systems studied.’

‘Construct and communicate coherent arguments making use of a range of appropriate political vocabulary.’

Things You Need to Know:

Democracy and Political Participation
* Democracy
* Legitimacy
* Direct Democracy
* Representative Democracy
* Referendums
* Other Conceptions of Democracy
* Democracy in the UK
* Improving Democracy in the UK

Party Policies and Ideas
* The Nature of Political Parties
* The Political Spectrum
* Consensus and Adversary Politics
* Traditions and Policies of the Labour Party
* Traditions and Policies of the Conservative Party * Traditions and Policies of the Liberal Democrat Party

* Functions of Elections
* Elections and Democracy
* Types of Elections in the UK
* Electoral Voting Systems
* Electoral Systems and Party Systems
* Electoral Reform

Pressure Groups
* Pressure Groups
* Classifications
* Functions
* Distinguishing Between Political Parties and Pressure Groups * Methods and Objectives
* Power and Influence
* Pressure Groups and Democracy

Democracy and Political Participation

Key Terms:
* Democracy
* Legitimacy
* Representation
* Direct Democracy
* Referendum
* Representative Democracy
* Liberal Democracy
* Parliamentary Democracy
* Political Participation

What is Democracy?
Democracy is any society or political system where the public have the opportunity to make or influence decisions and where the government is accountable to those people. Abraham Lincoln described democracy as ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. Common ideas within democracy are that decisions are made using open discussion and debate. Democracy exists at certain levels in many modern states. Examples of important democratic states are * The UK

* The USA
* France

What is Legitimacy?
Legitimacy is the idea that a government has a democratic right to hold political power. Legitimacy is usually, though not always, given through an election. This simply means that if a government is voted in by the people, it has the right to rule. Examples of cases of legitimacy are: * The House of Commons. It is legitimate because it is elected. * The UK government. It is legitimate because it has a clear mandate to govern. * The power of the prime minister is legitimate because they are the supreme policy maker in the political system. However, legitimacy is a difficult concept to justify, because it isn’t always clear whether an institution is legitimate. This means it is difficult to say whether they have the right to hold political power or not. Examples of cases where the legitimacy can be argued against are: * The House of Lords. It is arguably not legitimate as its members aren’t elected. * The monarchy. It is not legitimate as they are not elected but born into it.

What is Representation?
Representation is a political process where the public don’t make political decisions directly, but elect people to make decisions on their behalf. The biggest form of representation in the UK is MP’s. There are two types of representation: * Descriptive. This is where the person is a member of the group they represent, such as an old person representing a group of old people. * Substantive. This is where the person is not a member of the group they represent, such as a young person representing a group of old people.

What is Direct Democracy?
Direct democracy is a type of democracy where the people make the important political decisions, or are consulted before key decisions are made. This means they are directly involved in the decision making process, rather than leaving it to elected representatives.

What is a Referendum?
A referendum is a type of direct democracy and is the most common form. It is where an important decision is put to the public in the form of a question where the answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It can be national, regional or local. Referendums are held for the following reasons: * Sometimes government itself is divided on an issue, and so give the public the final say. * It is now established as a convention for an important change to be approved by the public. * A referendum has the effect of entrenching a constitutional change, making it difficult for future governments to reverse. * It may be especially important to get the consent of the public on a key change, especially if it may concern tax.

In the UK, referendums are not legally binding; however, if the result is high, it would be only smart for the government to take the answer into account; otherwise the public would lose faith in the government. Examples of referendums are: * 1975. This was a national referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the European community. The outcome was a large ‘yes’ majority. * 1997. This was a regional referendum, held only in Wales, on whether Wales should have an elected assembly. The outcome was a narrow ‘yes’ majority. * 1998. This was a local referendum, held only in London, on whether London should have an elected mayor and assembly. The outcome was a large ‘yes’ majority.

What is Representative Democracy?
Representative democracy is where citizens within a country elect representatives to make decisions for them. Within representative democracy, usually two types of MP’s emerge: * There are those who believe that they should act and react to what the party and electorate wish; they believe that they have been elected to represent both. * There are those who believe that they should act in accordance to their conscience instead; this means the MP ...

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