Elections and Democracy

Elections and Democracy

Process During Elections

  • The Electoral Commission: An independent body set up by the UK Parliament, responsible for regulating election finance, setting standards for election administration, monitoring and enforcing election laws.
  • Manifestos: Detailed public declarations of policies and aims released by political parties. They are crucial in informing the electorate and shaping public opinion.
  • First Past the Post System (FPTP): The electoral system used for general elections in the UK, where the candidate with the most votes in a constituency wins.

Types of Elections

  • General Elections: These determine the composition of the House of Commons. They are held every five years as mandated by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, 2011.
  • Local Elections: These elect representatives to local government bodies like borough, district, and county councils.
  • European Elections: Held while UK was part of EU, to elect Members of the European Parliament (MEP).
  • By-elections: Held when a seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant between general elections.

Significance of Elections

  • Representative Democracy: Elections form the cornerstone of representative democracies. Politicians get their mandate through electoral victories.
  • Accountability: Elected representatives can be held accountable for their actions and performance through subsequent elections.
  • Legitimacy & Political Stability: Elections confer legitimacy upon the government and contribute significantly to political stability.
  • Public Participation: Elections encourage civil engagement and public participation in political affairs.

Influences on Voting Behaviour

  • Partisan Alignment: Long-standing party loyalties can influence voters’ decisions.
  • Voter Issues: The significance voters give to different policy issues can determine their vote.
  • Party Leaders: The appeal and competence of party leaders often have a substantial effect on voters.
  • Media: The portrayal of parties and leaders in the media can shape voter perception and decision.

Remember, elections are the bedrock of democracy, ensuring representation and accountability.