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To What Extent Does Democracy in the Uk, Suffer from 'Participation Crisis'?

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To what extent does democracy in the UK, suffer from a ‘participation crisis’? (25 marks)

One main concern to why people would argue that the UK is suffering from ‘participation crisis’ is due to a decrease in social capital.The argument is that there is a lack of connection as people are more concerned about themselves, rather than the larger society and general public. This lack of connection leads the public to have a lack of engagement towards politics, meaning less people are interested in how the uk is governed. People of the public have said that they are less willing to take part in deciding national issues in Europe as they have described it to be ‘boring’, they argued that they have less trust and lack a sense of socialness towards politics. Reports from ‘Department of Business’ showed that in 2012 statistics show that only 6.5 million employees were trade union members; which has hugely decreased from the 13 million trade union members in 1979. THis is evidence of how Britain suffers from a large participation crisis.

Another recent argument put forward by a journalist, Aman Ubhi from ‘ShoutOutUK’ argues that the UK suffers from a participation crisis due to the public’s social life and a lack of timing to commit to politics. He concluded that the majority of the public argued that “my vote will not make a difference regardless” which results to fewer people getting involved in politics. This lack of participation is shown in election turnouts. Looking at past elections to recent elections, we see a huge decrease of election turnouts from fewer votes every year. For example in 1997 the general election turnout in the uk was 71% compared to in 2015 where the general election turnout was 66%. This shows how election turnouts have been decreasing over a number of years, dramatically. Furthermore, decline in turnout in elections is a significant indication that the UK is suffering from a participation crisis. Many have argued that because of this, voting is irrelevant. Political parties also take a part in how the UK suffers a participation crisis. The public have argued political parties, arguably are more concerned with getting the most votes, opposed is representing the people. Parties genuinely will ensure their policies are perfectly tailored to attract their votes, rather than using policies that genuinely apply to the public or even would support the needs of the public.

On the other hand, some would argue that the UK does not suffer from participation crisis, however many ignore the exact concept of ‘participation’. Arguably, participation does not always have to be voting in elections. Participation can be though voting in a referendum or even watching BBC news and listening to politics news podcasts. IF we was to look at the stats through visual participation we could argue that there is no crisis within political participation. For example in 2013, 256 million people tuned into BBC news; compared to in 2015 where 3018 million people tuned into to BBC news services, which is evidence of a huge increase in political participation over three years. Many would argue that as a result of this, it shows that many people are still heavily involved in the participation of politics, however they are just not voting in elections compared to previous years. We could argue that this is because over the years, social media is an important way of keeping up to date with news, therefore the public may feel that it unnecessary for them to vote in elections and they have other responsibilities such as maintaining a living. In conclusion, I would argue along with many others that to a large extent the UK does suffer a participation crisis. I would argue this due to the decrease in social capital. I believe that this heavily has an impact on participation with politics. Regarding the public, there is a lack of cohesion that results to people being less willing to take part and have less political engagement regarding political policies, issues and decisions. I would argue that because of this, it shows evidence of how the majority of public are also uneducated on political issues, especially the younger members of the public and they are un-interested in political issues. This would be evidence of why there is lack of participation as people, genuinely lack the knowledge of how to participate in politics.

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