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Democracy, rights and citizenship

Y2 Rights and responsibilities

Mike Yule

on 1 October 2018

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Transcript of Democracy, rights and citizenship

Democracy, rights

Principles of democracy
Civil war
refer to previous lecture
Summary of Crick report for Citizenship
(& most recent Govt announcements...)
i.e. 3 strands
social & moral responsibility
community involvement
political literacy
Key concepts in Citizenship
Key skills
K & U
demos = people
kratos = rule
Q's arise...Who are the people?
Exactly what role should they play?
What exactly does the rule cover?
Fundamental idea about democracy is freedom
we've seen how liberalism emerged
i.e. response to medieval hierarchies/monarchies

i) roll back state + private rights were to be respected (NB this needed evolution of market economy based on respect of private property)

ii) State power was based not on divine or sovereign power BUT the will of the people (Rousseau & Locke)
New problems:
Liberty/autonomy and solidarity/equality aren't always compatible...
"Total liberty for the wolves is death to the lambs"
Westminster model
of democracy

Global Citizenship model...
What is democracy?
What defines it?
What are its chief characteristics?
How will you organize decision making?
What systems will you put in place...why?
: extend franchise because citizens should have equal political rights
based on:
natural rights
popular sovereignty
: believed in small groups, directly governing...

(resolves problem of achieving freedom while being bound by laws of community
: there must be representation in government
i.e. rule by consent of the people
rulers must be held accountable...not above the law
Relatively recent extension of franchise....democracy has arrived late
many different forms of democracy...how to judge them?
Problems with democracy
In practice, is it any more than
"choosing rulers and influencing their decisions?"
You are shipwrecked on an island with all of Y2.
Some lecturers too.
There is not quite enough food for everyone to eat to fill their belly, but there's no imminent threat of starvation.
liberalism attacked old system on 2 fronts:
general will
c.f. Greek 'democracy' and franchise!
respect individual rights
England since 1688 had substantial freedom of speech, freedom of press,
freedom of association, trial by jury, independent judiciary
BUT would not be recognised today as a democracy
fewer than 5% of population could vote
constituencies were of vastly unequal size
corrupt electoral process
wealthy landowners controlled seats
Plato's ship of fools
mob rule
remains in the hands of the powerful
information is carefully controlled
voters are nothing more than consumers
(rather than active participants)
voting changes nothing - it's an illusion
welfare of minorities is always under threat
There are many ways in which the model of a democracy can be organised.
All democracies that are true democracies must be concerned with the integrity of government institutions – like legislatures and courts, policing systems, taxation, distribution of public funds and political parties and interest groups.
All true democracies work with the notion of representing the consensus view – or the majority view.
Parliament is responsible for approving new laws (legislation).
The government introduces most plans for new laws, or changes to existing laws.
Laws can originate from an MP, Lord or even a member of the public or private group.
Before they can become law, both the House of Commons and House of Lords must debate and vote on the proposals.
The business of Parliament takes place in two Houses: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Their work is similar: making laws (legislation), checking the work of the government (scrutiny), and debating current issues.
The House of Commons is also responsible for granting money to the government through approving Bills that raise taxes.
Generally, the decisions made in one House have to be approved by the other.
In this way the two-chamber system acts as a check and balance for both Houses.
Parliamentary elections
You and Your MP
Useful papers
These operate, for example in Switzerland and Belgium.
Under the consensus model power, through the executive bodies (education, home office, judiciary, etc.,) is shared by a broad coalition.
That is, if there are 646 seats in the house of commons, executive power can be held by those parties that achieve seats proportionally distributed to and agreed formula.
For example, if a party achieves 1/8 of the seats in the House of Commons they have a stake in Government.
That is, for every party that returns 81 MPs, they have a stake in the setting up of the Government.
Consensus models
The ‘alternative vote’ or ‘
In majoritarian systems of democracy………winning parties may make all the governmental decisions and the losers may criticise but not govern. (Lijhart 1999:30).
However, this would seem inconsistent with the notion of democracy …….to exclude the losing groups from participation in decision making clearly violates the primary meaning of democracy. (Lijhart 1999:30).
Is it actually tyranny of the ‘majority’ party?
Those who are ‘in government’ – or are doing the governing, are elected to be there. They are elected by the people.
They govern for the people because they represent what the people want.
By the people – for the people

General elections
At a general election, all MPs stand for re-election and every constituency across the country chooses between available candidates. General elections generally happen every four to five years.
If an MP dies or retires, an election is held in that constituency alone to find a new MP for that area.

Political parties
Most MPs are members of one of the three main political parties in the UK - Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. Other MPs represent smaller parties or are independent of a political party.
To become an MP representing a main political group, a candidate must be authorised to do so by the parties nominating officer. They must then win the most votes in the constituency.
The Westminster notion of ‘majority’
In passing laws, the proposer of the bill must achieve a majority vote to succeed.
For most votes an MP can count on all members of their party to vote with them.
Where one party has a sizable majority of MPs having their laws passed will be quite straight forward.
Where the majority is more marginal, the party proposing the legislation will need the support of MPs from other parties to enable their laws to be passed.
The notion of ‘majority’
Voter ‘turn-out’
Marginal seats
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/flash/0,,2226079,00.htmlGeography - Westminster parliamentary constituencies
2010 election results
Find your MP
There are 650 constituencies – therefore, 650 MPs
Each member of the electorate ‘casts’ one vote and votes in favour of the candidate they wish to win.
The candidate with the most votes is elected.
At the end of the election process, the political party that has the most MPs elected will be invited, by the Queen to form a Government.
The MP who is the leader of the party that has the greatest number of MPs becomes the ‘prime’ or first minister.
The PM will then choose a selected number of colleagues to ‘head up’ civil service departments and be cabinet ministers. For example, the Department for Children Schools and Families.
The cabinet is the PM’s core ‘team’ and advice panel.
‘first past the post’
Each constituency elects an MP to represent it.
The local political parties will ‘put up’ a candidate for election.
The electorate in England will usually be able to choose from:
a Labour party candidate,
a Conservative party candidate,
a Liberal Party candidate,
And often a candidates from parties such as the Green party, the British National party and UKip – the UK Independent Party.
Scottish, Welsh and Irish voters will often be able to choose candidates that reflect local concerns – the Scottish National Party, for example.
Electing MPs
The process by which something becomes a law is explained on the following pages:
Making laws
Members of the House of Lords are mostly appointed by the Queen, a fixed number are elected internally and a limited number of Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House.
The Lords acts as a revising chamber for legislation and its work complements the business of the Commons.
The House of Lords is also the highest court in the land: the supreme court of appeal.
A group of salaried, full-time judges known as Law Lords carries out this judicial work.
House of Lords
The Commons is publicly elected. The party with the largest number of members in the Commons forms the government.
Members of the Commons (MPs) debate the big political issues of the day and proposals for new laws. It is one of the key places where government ministers, like the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, and the principal figures of the main political parties, work.
The Commons alone is responsible for making decisions on financial Bills, such as proposed new taxes. The Lords can consider these Bills but cannot block or amend them.
House of Commons
Web-page for UK Government
UK Parliament - Parliament Home Page
The Westminster Model
At the end of this session students will have:
Increased their knowledge and understanding of the Westminster model of democracy;
explored the notion of ‘majority’ in a democratic system;
increased their knowledge and understanding of the Westminster model of democracy.
Citizenship PTZ202
January 2012
The Westminster model of democracy
Lijphart A (1999) Patterns of Democracy Yale University Press
Previous government majority 158
Current government majority 83 MPs
Number of H of C MPs by party

2011/pre- election
particular issues:
voting system
press freedom
narrow political class - how representative?

the consequences of globalisation
the spread of the free market in the world economy
international institutions
spread of the same images worldwide
development of the modern state
"whereby social space becomes more global in not being located in any particular territory
Dower, 2003
The right to vote.
The right to be elected.
The right of political leaders to compete for support and votes.
Elections that are free and fair.
Freedom of association.
Freedom of expression.
Freedom to alternative sources of information.
Institutions for making policy dependent on votes.
8 principles of democracy
(Lijphart 1999:48).
leadership by the stupid, who make unrealisable promises to the ignorant
a ship with a mutinous crew
Are we the crew? Or the owners?
What do you make of this analogy?
Consider Freedom House criteria...
How does the UK fare?
Full transcript