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Democracy, Unit 1

How democratic is the UK?

The health of UK democracy or the levels of democracy evident in our elections are topics favoured by Edexcel examiners and this piece in the Independent provides some excellent examples.


It explains how the Metropolitan Police will be patrolling polling stations in Tower Hamlets today amid fears of Electoral Fraud.

It suggests that the Electoral Commission is a complacent and toothless watchdog. According to the Independent ‘the British electoral process has weak points, which have  become weaker over the years’

The weak points are described as follows:

1) Weakness of the registration process- although it contends that the most obvious problems are being remedied. From 2014 each first time voter will have to produce proof of identity. At present the head of household registers voters and penalties incur for not registering everyone in the household rather than registering too many. In classic AO2 manner this point is evaluated suggesting that the move could disenfranchise groups such as Asian women but the proliferation of ‘phantom votes’ must be addressed.

2) Increasing use of postal ballots. The article suggests that the government is blind to this problem. Labour introduced postal votes on demand in order to increase turnout and Labour support- the problems are manifest:  ‘It is not clear that all postal voters actually exist or, if they do, are entitled to a vote. And it is all too easy for votes – real or fraudulent – to be “harvested” by supporters of a particular candidate, who may exert financial or clan pressure to secure their goal.’

In a concluding volley (that could be recycled in an essay…) the article suggests that:

‘Some might say that it is to Britain’s credit that we take the honesty of our elections for granted. Regrettably, that reflects a national naivety we can no longer afford.’





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