Representative democracy

Representative democracy is the 'normal' model in modern states. In essence, it means that the

 people elect, and sometimes appoint, individuals to act on their behalf, to be their political representatives. Representative democracies normally have the following features:

Podcast from the Politics Shed on Theories of Representation 

Political associations and pressure groups operate freely and represent various causes,  beliefs and interest groups

Representative democracy in the UK

The UK is considered to be a representative democracy. Most decisions are made by representativesrather than by direct democracy. The following features of representation exist in the UK:

·    There are regular free elections. Virtually all adults can vote or stand for office. (It is arguable whether

 UK elections to Westminster are 'fair', given the first-past-the ­post electoral system that 

distorts party representation.)

·    There are elected representative assemblies at every level — national (the UK Parliament's House

 of Commons), regional (the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies)

 and local (councils). These assemblies debate and discuss issues. The House of Commons is the nation's debating cahmber- therefore we can be said to have 'Deliberative Democracy'

·    Parties are free to operate and represent various political opinions.

·    Political associations and pressure groups are free to operate and campaign and have access to government. Therefore the UK can be described as a 'Pluralist Democracy'

    Governments at all levels are accountable to representative assemblies.

 Every individual is represented by an MP, a regional assembly member and a local councillor, who may take up an individual's grievances in government.

·    Every locality is also represented through the constituency responsibilities of MPs. e.g responding to correspondence, meeting constituents in constituency 'surgeries' 

BUT-Remember- MPs have no 'power' in their constituency- they do not run local services or make decisions locally- that's the local authority, but they have influence and the ability to raise local issues in Parliament or with ministers. They can also try to influence local issues in through the media. e.g Zak Goldsmith resigned as MP for Richmond Park after the government decided to go ahead with the new runway at Heathrow.

How MPs represent is problematic. Do they represent their party; their constituents or their personal beliefs. The answer is all three.

There four theoretical models of representation

Theories of Representation