Tag Archives: policy

What role do pressure groups play in the British political system?

In the last years the role of pressure groups in the political process have been broadly discussed as the groups roles today seems to be unclear and the level of influence is difficult to measure. This essay will discuss. What role do pressure groups play in the British political system? Why are some groups more influential than others?

As a common definition: pressure groups are voluntary organisations formed to advance or defend a common cause or interest. Therefore they are unlike political parties in that they do not wish to assume responsibility for governing the country; rather they seek to influence those who do so. [1]To some extend, pressure groups do not aspire to govern the country and are concerned with a relatively narrow range of problems; is has been argued that much of their work is non-political but as much as their concerns and aspirations are affected by government they seek to have an influence over the conduct of public policy. Another view is “Pressure groups seek to influence rather than power, yet pluralist argue that power is effectively dispersed through the widespread influence of countless groups on government and policy making”. [2] Additionally, groups seek to defend and advance their own interest or cause, and government policy or specific decisions may affect them adversely or beneficially. Therefore they have a strong motive to seek to influence government, especially as power in the British political system is concentrated with the core executive. However, the universe of pressure groups now requires more systematic subdivisions. The problem at once encountered is that the traditional ways of doing it hardly seem adequate. The oldest classification in the technical literature is the one introduced in 1935 by Harwood Childs of Princeton University[3], who distinguished between those groups “whose community of interests is based on such fundamental differentials as age, sex, occupation and race, from those existing merely to further special ideas or groups of ideas. Furthermore, because their concerns are liable to be affected by government decisions, they need to be organised in order to influence ministers and respond to what they propose. “In Britain the tendency is to use the term ‘pressure groups’ and then to sub-divide them into different categories. The world ‘pressure’ has an unfortunate connotation and many groups operate without resorting to any degree of coercion”.[4] In both case and its simplest; pressure groups are not counting political parties that influence or attempt to influence the public authorities, mainly the central government and they traditionally operated at four main levels, seeking to influence the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the public at large. In Britain and Europe, they tend to be more closely associated with government.

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Democracy assistance has little chance of being effective without the carrot and stick of conditionality?

 

Definition carrot and stick: Strategy often used in negotiations where one side offers the other something it wants while threatening negative sanctions if the other side does not comply with its requests.

Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been confusion for disagreement over the primary purpose(s) of political strategies of external support for democratization and their theoretical justification. Carothers’ idea of a ‘‘democracy template’’ (1999:88) comprising electoral process, state institutions, and civil society, reflecting an idealized view of U.S. liberal democracy arranges the typical components of conventional democracy support. First, there are goals for each of these three ‘‘sectors,’’ such as free and fair elections, and then individual forms of assistance, for example; international election observation. The simplest strategy for support refers to choices among these three sectors and their components.[1]

Democratization assistance is an established and growing industry. Yet, in a survey of 40 democracies; efforts to protect and promote democracy abroad, only three countries (Canada, the Netherlands, and Sweden) were rated ‘‘very good’’[2]. Thus, it seems there is scope to do better. In contrast, two problematic aspects of democratization after intervention are the regional environment of the new democracies and the economic structure of the country. Several empirical studies indicate that the prospects for democracy are worse for countries that are located in non-democratic neighbourhoods [3] and that stable democracy is less likely in poor or oil-dependent countries.[4]

Conditionality can be defined as an agreement between two actors, in which actor 1 offers a reward to actor 2. This reward is granted if actor 2 fulfils certain conditions. In case the conditions are not met by actor 2 the reward is simply withheld (positive conditionality) or punishment follows (negative conditionality). To exert conditionality as a reward-based policy between two actors, asymmetric negotiation power has to be in place. This means that actor 1 has to be able to offer attractive incentives which actor 2 wants to have and cannot achieve easily. When analyzing social interaction from an incentives- and interest-based position, conditionality is first of all understood as a mode of action. Additionally, it can be used purposely as a political strategy to apply a reward-based policy between two political actors and to institutionalize asymmetric interaction. In this case, conditionality can be used to promote democracy by combining attractive rewards with certain conditions of democratic development.

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Is anarchy a serious obstacle to co-operation?

In International Relations the concept of anarchy has been broadly discussed for several reasons; some scholars may argue that anarchism can be beneficial among the states and even more beneficial in IR dealings between countries. In opposition other scholars believe that anarchism is a serious obstacle to co-operation. This essay will discuss Is anarchy a serious obstacle to co-operation?

Yes; it is. The reason that makes me get in this position is the following: from the definition anarchy is defined as: “a system operating in the absence of any central government. Does not imply chaos, but in Realist theory the absence of political authority.”[1] Furthermore; in order to answer this question correctly, concepts involving Realism, Critical theory and Constructivism arise because they define the path in IR about anarchy most recently in the last years.

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Can democracy ever be ‘fully’ consolidated?

In democratic theories there is the debate whether democracy can be fully consolidated or not. There is the common argument that consolidation is possible in every democratic regime, but a ‘fully consolidation’ seems to be more unlikely.  This essay will discuss: Can democracy ever be ‘fully consolidated’?

In the last decades ‘democracy has been widely recognized as the best political regime yet invented, because its citizens are both treated with respect, dignity and have some say in political decision-making’.[1] In this sense, democracy can be consolidated, but not completely. To understand this: consolidation is seen as a scale; because of multiple different factors that are used to work out whether a democracy is consolidated or not. Therefore, it would be wrong to see democratic consolidation as a dichotomy. For example; if two democracies (A,B) were equal in almost every way sharing similar political institutions, ethnic divisions, size, region, political culture; it would be absurd to classify A as a consolidated democracy and B not just because A has more equality of wealth.  Instead a better classification would be to say that A is more consolidated than B. The bottom-line here is that, democratic consolidation is best understood as a scale; this means that for a country to be ‘fully consolidated’ it must be at the very top of the consolidation scale. Moreover, for a country to be consolidated it would have to be on balance more likely to it to remain a democracy than to revert back to a non-democracy. In this case; it could be argued that for such a state to exist is almost impossible as for it to do so all the possibly relevant factors would have to be a factor strengthening democracy or at least not weakening it. To a national level, even in Britain for example, the lack of a codified constitution, the rise of BNP and declining turnout can all be pointed to as factors which make Britain’s democracy not fully consolidated because under the right conditions they could make the UK slide into authoritarianism.  Although this is not likely the existence of these weaknesses in Britain’s democracy still mean that the UK can’t be called a fully consolidated democracy.

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UK US effective leadership

Compare the powers of the American President and British Prime Minister. Which can provide more effective leadership?

After comparing British Prime Minister and American President roles is believed that the U.S president leadership can provide more effectiveness, the reason are the following:

The president of the US is the head of the State, while the British prime minister is the effective head of British government. In this case is believed that the US president as head of the state is able to make decisions without consulting the executive.

The Article II, Section 2 of the US Constitution determines that the president is the sole commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces and of the state militias when they are called into national duty.  In other words, the president is given the power to require responses from the principal officers in each constituent department of the executive. As commander-in chief the president leads an armed force of almost 1.5 million. There are also many civilian personnel involved, and the Department of Defense is the largest executive department.[1]

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