How effective are elections in the uk

As with every type of elections across the world there are some negative and positive elements. Amongst these is theUK as well. Elections are the principle way in which governments in the UK are formed. They therefore serve to transfer power from one government to the next. The positive democratic elements of the UK elections are as follows. Everyone is free to participate in the elections. There are very few restrictions on who can vote or stand for election. Nobody is barred from taking part without good reasons.

The only controversial aspect of this feature is the question of whether prisoners should be allowed to vote. As things stand they cannot, though European Court of Human Rights ruling has said they should. As the Uk is recognised as a very democratic country it hold the capability to allow anybody to form a political party and compete for election provided their aims are lawful. There is free information and a free media. All are able to access independent information and there is no censorship.

Only parties that advocate the overthrow of the state or criminal activities are barred. Normally , though not in 2010, elections deliver a democratic mandate to the incoming government, granting it the legitimate authority to carry out it’s policies. Putting it another way, elections basically grant democratic consent to new governments. Excluding some minor examples, the UK elections are free from corruption. Voting remains secret and the counting of votes is carefully regulated to prevent fraud. The result is, therefore, reliable .

Moving on to the negative democratic aspects of the UK elections. Undoubtedly the most undemocratic aspect of the UK general elections is the fact that the result is disproportional. The first past the post electoral system favour parties with concentrated support and discriminates against small parties, especially those with dispersed support. The House of Commons that results from an election, therefore, is not representative oft political opinion in the UK. As a result of the electoral system, governments are usually elected on a minority of the popular vote.

It could therefore be argued that their legitimacy, their mandate, is flawed because more people normally have voted against than for the party of government. Ironically the 2010 coalition could claim to be supported by a popular majority, the first such government since 1945. However it compromised two parties and so did not have a clear democratic mandate for its agreed policies. The ‘normal’ situation where a single party wins a huge amount of government power on a minority of the popular vote, was described by Conservative politician Lord Hailsham in 1977 as an ‘elective dictatorship’.

Less controversially, but also problematic is the fact that the large parties have disproportionate amounts of funds to contest the election. This gives them an artificial advantage. The Liberal Democrats have especially suffered from lack of money. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not have the same range of wealthy donors as do Labour and the Conservatives. Elections are therefore the main link between government and the people, meaning that voting is the most important form of political participation.

The opportunities to vote in the UK have, in fact, increased significantly in recent years. Since 2000, the electoral process in the UK has been regulated by the Electoral Commission. However, doubts have also been raised about the effectiveness of elections in ensuring representation. Four or five year electoral terms, as found in the UK, weaken the link between voters and representatives. Five year, fixed term Parliaments, as proposed in 2010, are longer than the equivalent in many other liberal democracies.

Also there is considerable debate about how elected politicians can and should ‘represent’ their electors. This is reflected in competing theories of representation, as discussed. Low turnout levels in the 2001, 2005 and 2010 general elections have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the UK political system. Voter apathy may be a way in which disillusioned citizens are withholding ‘consent’. Failing support, since the 1970s, for the two ‘governing’ parties, Labour and the Conservatives may indicate decline levels of popular satisfaction with the performance of the UK political system.