In what ways is the UK political system democratic?
The UK is believed to be a representative democracy. However, the question in what ways is UK political system democratic has two view points when answering it.
Firstly, one of the most important features of the democracy isfree and fair elections. Certainly, as in the majority of the countries where democracy is used as a form of governing the country, all adults in Britain over 18 years old, except the prisoners, have the right to vote in asecret ballot. In theory these ballots are secret, but when it comes to practice it is not secrete at all. In reality these ballot slips are numbered, which means that it is possible to find out how individuals voted. This is explained as the necessary safeguard against electoral fraud.
What is more, when looking at the same elections but from different perspective we can assume that elections are not as fair as they are assumed to be. The reason for this assumption is that the electoral system,first-past-to-post, does not equally counts the votes. This contradicts to the fact that all votes must be equal in importance as well as quantity. The best way to solve this problem could be the change of the electoral system to the proportional representation, which would be fairer when distributing the seats in the Houses of Commons.
Anyway, when candidates are elected theyrepresent our views in the parliament, which is one of the features of the democracy. The only difference between the elected people is what they represent: their party, their constituency or the consciousness when making the decisions.
It is worth mentioning the fact that except the elected representatives, there are also many other people in power who hold their positions without having to be elected- civil service and judges. Recently, some of their functions have been given to"quasi- autonomous non-governmental organizations", such as the BBC. Although the primeminister's extensive powers of patronage were being criticized the best response to this criticism would be that these unelected officials ensurecontinuity. Government comes and goes, it changes over time, but this people stay for a long time, they have a lot of knowledge and experience, and by giving advices to the new government they as well ensure efficiency of the governance.
Press and media is believed to be free as there is no government control over it. But as there are two sides of each coin, we could criticize media with the fact that media is controlled and owned by private companies, which support capitalism. Furthermore, there are no extreme left or right wing newspapers. One more important fact to mention is that there are more conservative papers. And last but not less important criticism is that there are no papers supporting other parties, such as Green party, for instance.
Another democratic feature isfreely operating parties and pressure groups. This is one of the best examples showing us that British citizens do use their right to free speech. They can influence political process through the demonstrations, such as over the poll tax (1990), fuel taxes (2000) and hunting (2002 and recently in 2004).Also people can join a political party or write to their MPs.
Following argument supporting the view that Britain is a democratic country is that there islittle political corruption. However, there are still those "whips" that certainly raise the question of corruption
Although one of the undemocratic features is theabsence of the entrenched Bill of Rights, on the other hand there is still therule of law which balances the answer to the question how democratic the UK political system is.
Taking into account everything discussed below we can conclude that although there are some undemocratic features, the UK can certainly be defined as "representative democracy".