In 2011 Britain’s second nationwide referendum. This was on the issue of whether to replace the First Past the Post voting system with the Alternative Vote system for General Elections. Many people have questioned the effectiveness of this referendum and whether it turned out to be a good democratic exercise.Continue reading
The term democracy comes from the Greek demokratia, literally meaning “rule by people”. The origins of democracy can be traced back to Ancient Athens. Athenian Democracy was direct in its nature. It had two key features that defined its fundamental operation:
- Officials were randomly selected from among the citizens.
- A legislature that was made up of all citizens.
Petitions have a long history in Britain. For over a thousand years they have been a tool for citizens to try to address their grievances to the monarch or to the government. In 1689 the right to petition the King was even enshrined in the Bill of Rights:Continue reading
Recall refers to the power to remove (recall) an elected politician from office. Recall is an example of direct democracy and theoretically gives voters significant control over their representatives. In Britain, the Recall of MPs Act (2015) gave voters some power to recall MPs in certain circumstances.Continue reading
Direct Democracy refers to a system whereby citizens decide directly on political issues themselves. It is the system that was the backbone of ancient democracies, like that in the city state of Athens, but has now been overtaken by a representative democratic model.
Both Britain and the United States can clearly be identified as a representative democracy. However, there are areas where direct Democracy is still used and is arguably growing in importance. Today we will look at Britain, with an update on the United States in a couple of weeks time.