First Past the Post System

First Past the Post System

Supreme Court: Composition

  • The UK Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the United Kingdom, with power to overrule even the Court of Appeal.
  • It consists of 12 justices, including a President and Deputy President.
  • Justices are appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister and after consultation with senior judiciary officials.

Supreme Court: Underpinning Principles

  • The UK Supreme Court upholds the principle of the rule of law, which stipulates that all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are equally enforced.
  • The Supreme Court also operates on the principle of judicial independence, which ensures that justices make impartial decisions, free from influence or pressure from political bodies.

Supreme Court: Power

  • The Supreme Court has the ability to declare laws incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, although it can’t overturn legislation.
  • Decisions made by the Supreme Court are binding on all lower courts in the UK.

Supreme Court: Impact

  • The Supreme Court has played major roles in landmark cases that have shaped UK law and society.
  • Its decisions have also influenced policies and political debates in the UK.

Supreme Court: After Brexit

  • The Supreme Court is likely to see a major shift in its role and operation post-Brexit as it will no longer be bound by the EU’s Court of Justice.
  • Still, Brexit’s full impact is uncertain and could depend on future domestic legislation and UK-EU agreements.

The EU: Development

  • Post World War II Europe saw the formation of a number of supranational bodies, culminating in the European Union in 1992.
  • Since then, the EU has grown to 27 member states, making it one of the world’s biggest single-market areas.

The EU: Aims

  • The EU strives for peace, stability, and prosperity across Europe.
  • It also promotes human rights and principles of democracy across member states.

The EU: Roles and Functions

  • As a political-economic union, the EU facilitates free trade and movement among member states.
  • It has a legislative arm, the European Parliament, and a judicial arm, the European Court of Justice.

The EU: Political Systems

  • The EU employs a unique political system, where powers are divided among intergovernmental and supranational institutions.
  • These systems are designed to ensure consensus and prevent any single state from dominating the union.

The EU: Impact on British Politics

  • As an EU member, the UK was subject to EU rules and regulations, which impacted various aspects of British politics.
  • These impacts continue to be felt even in the post-Brexit era as the UK continues to negotiate its new relationship with the EU.

Democracy: Definition

  • At its most simple, democracy is a political system in which the majority rule but the rights of the minorities are protected.

Forms of Democracy

  • Democracies can be direct (where citizens directly participate in decision-making) or representative (where citizens select representatives to make decisions).
  • The UK operates a representative democracy, which means it follows electoral democracy while embodying the principles of a liberal democracy.

Effectiveness of UK Democracy

  • The effectiveness of democracy in the UK can be assessed by looking at citizen engagement, rule of law, and the functioning of democratic institutions.
  • Areas of concern include low voter turnouts and limitations to electoral competitiveness.

Political Participation in the UK

  • Political participation in the UK takes a variety of forms, including voting, becoming members of political parties, and engaging in protests or social movements.
  • There is a continuous debate about the representative nature of political participation in the UK, particularly concerning youth, marginalized communities, and different regions.

Pressure Groups

  • Pressure groups play an important role in UK politics as channels for expression and vehicles for change.
  • Examples of effective pressure groups include the Countryside Alliance, the National Farmers’ Union, and Greenpeace.

Protection of Rights in Democracies

  • Democracies are expected to protect citizens’ rights, which are usually codified in a constitution or a bill of rights.
  • The Human Rights Act (1998) is an example of how rights are protected in the UK’s uncodified constitution.

Elections and Democracy

  • Elections, fundamental to democracy, enable citizens to choose who represents them in the government and hold elected officials accountable.

First Past the Post System

  • The UK uses a First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system, which tends to favour larger parties and produce a single-party majority government.
  • Ongoing debates discuss whether the FPTP system is representative and how it impacts smaller parties.