To What Extent Would the Wide Use of Referendums Improve Democracy in the UK?

Topics: Democracy, Plurality voting system, Elections Pages: 3 (941 words) Published: October 29, 2013
To What Extent Would the Wide Use of Referendums Improve Democracy in the UK?

The wide use of referendums would make an improvement to democracy in the UK. A reason why it would be so beneficial is that referendums highly encourage political participation. Over recent years, political participation has not been at it’s highest, with people expecting a mere 55% turnout at the next vote, referendums could be just what are required to engage the public in politics. The Good Friday referendum is an example of referendums improving democracy. With an 81.1% turnout in a country where voting is not even mandatory, referendums make the public feel they should educate themselves on the matter because their view is required and important.

Although it’s good to have a large amount of the public excited to input their views into political matters, there is the issue that the people of the public lack specialized knowledge, and can be easily swayed by the government. This is not very democratic and therefore would not improve democracy in the UK. The 1975 EEC referendum asked a question phrased in a way that would make the people give the answer that the government wanted, and this is not a true representation of the views of the public.

Referendums cause the public to become more educated and engaged, which would help the UK to become more democratic. For example, the Scottish referendum scheduled to take place next year has already started campaigning, with their “Yes, Scotland” campaign. Through activities like campaigning, the government can engage the public and they then become more educated about it.

Referendums can be exciting and engaging, but sometimes other means can influence and bias voters, as they are only people, so their true beliefs aren’t represented and then the whole referendum was pointless. For example, during the Northern Ireland Sovereignty Referendum, the leader of the SDLP organised a boycott and told the members to ignore the...
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