Indirect democracy: is it fair or unfair?

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We started by thinking about what indirect democracy actually means.

The dictionary definition states that:

Indirect democracy, or representative democracy, is when citizens elect representatives to make laws for them. This is what most modern countries have today.

We then looked at some of the advantages of this system.

1. It is a very efficient form of government when it is operating correctly. It is designed to have people working together co-operatively so that no group ever gains too much power.

2. People still get to have their say via a vote, so their opinions are not completely ignored.

3. Every district is properly represented by a local MP, so decisions can be made in line with the needs of different types of people.

4. It simplifies the decision making process and means that people don’t have to vote on every little thing.

We also looked at the disadvantages, as we thought it was important to have a balanced view of the way this system works.

1. There has to be a great deal of trust- people need to believe that their representative in parliament are going to make the right decisions for them.

2. It requires excellent communication since representatives are scattered all over the country.

3. It discourages participation. People might think that they don’t need to vote, since there is still someone representing them who can make a decision.

Finally, we thought about whether this system is a fair way of making decisions or not, and we came to the following conclusions.

We think that indirect democracy is unfair because only the MP of your area (which is the person that is in charge of your area) really has an affect on what is going to happen and the MP can think something is better for it's area with all of the citizens of the area thinking that the other option/options are better for them therefore indirect democracy is unfair. The MP could choose anything that could benefit them rather than thinking about the community they represent- it must be difficult to trust that they will make the right decisions.

However we can also say that direct democracy is unfair because if there is a democracy with two options to vote for and one of the options gets a total of 51% of votes for it and the second option with a total of 49% and loses by 1% then it is also unfair that all of the people's votes which were for the second option did not count at all.

For example, when people voted for Brexit and the scores were revealed in 2016, the people in the United Kingdom who voted to leave the European Union only won the debate by 2% which means that they had a total of 52% and the people who wanted to stay in the European Union had a total of 48% so the people who wanted to leave only had an advantage of 2% and they still won which is also unfair for the 48% who were out voted by 2%.

I think that indirect democracy is very comparable to a dice game where you try to get a six but you don't control it and you are at the mercy of a single dice which in real life is the MP of your area and when you hope to get six in real life you hope for your MP pick the option that you think is good. In conclusion, I think that indirect democracy is unfair since you do not have enough of an affect on what the decision of the democracy will be and only your MP has an affect on what will happen.

Comments (14)

  • Tiff-Avatar.jpg Tiff @ the BNC
    15 Mar 2019

    Great post! Can you find any examples from around the world where democracy works in a different way? For example where voting systems are different?

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    1. The-Ruth-Gorse-logo-250x250.jpg balanced_singer | The Ruth Gorse Academy
      Tiff @ the BNC's comment 16 Mar 2019

      In Westminister, India and the United States, they use a voting system called ''first past the post.'' Voters will receive a ballot paper with a list of candidates. The voter then ticks their favorite candidate's box; however, if they have the impression that they have a low chance of winning, they may tick another one that they like. Six hundred and fifty areas across the country each hold separate 'contests'. To become an MP the candidate needs the largest amount of votes in their constituency. Some places like Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, and South Africa have stopped using the FPTP system. I think this is because, in areas that use FPTP, the majority of people will not have voted for their MP. Moreover, although this is a form of democracy it doesn't seem very democratic.

      The ''additional members system'' is used by the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly, New Zealand and Germany. Voters using AMS have two ballot papers. There is a list of candidates on the first one and they put a cross on their preferred candidate. On the second ballot paper, there is a list of parties who want a seat in parliament. Ballot paper number one is counted first. The candidate with the most votes wins, just like a normal vote. After that, ballot papers number two are counted. They look at how many seats the party had won on the first ballot paper. They then add ‘additional members’ the party lists to make parliament match how the country voted. I didn't really understand what this meant, so I'll try to explain using everything else I had read. If a party had eight MPs from the area, and it's 'fair share' is ten MPs. Two of the candidates become MPs. This is either done in large areas like Scotland and Wales or throughout the country. The main aim of AMS is to keep a consistent parliament but at the same time have an MP for different constituencies.

      The ''two-round system'' is used by presidents of around forty different countries, but largely in France. This voting system seems a little less complicated compared to the first two. On the first day, the voter puts a cross in their preferred candidate's box. If that candidate gets 50% of the votes or more they are then elected. If this fails to happen, there will be a second vote held. Most countries choose the top two candidates to go through to the second round. Then the candidate who won the second ballot gets elected. "It is often said that in the first-round you vote with your heart, and in the second you vote with your head. Hence there is less need to vote tactically in the first-round." I think this is important to note because it shows how important it is to vote and that you should think through your choices. However, I think that even the first vote should be done tactically in case one of the candidates get over 50% and therefore become elected. If Brexit was a candidate, the vote should have been done like this.

      The ''single transferable voting system'' (or for short STV) is used in Ireland, Malta, The Northern Ireland Assembly and Scottish local elections. Using STV means that his means, you get a parliament where the strength of the parties is equal to the strength of the support they give in the country, and MPs have a strong local link. When you vote using STV, you rank the parties from your favorite to your least favorite. Bigger areas would be able to elect a smaller team of representatives. Using STV means that you don't have to worry about 'tactical voting'.

      Supplementary Voting system (SV) is used for electing Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners in the UK. There are two columns of boxes with some candidates names on the ballot paper. One column of boxes is for voters to mark their favorite candidate with an X and one in which to mark a second favorite with an X. Unlike FPTP, voters don’t have to mark a second favorite if they do not have one. Voters can put an X in both boxes for one candidate; however, this is largely the same as just marking your favorite. When you do this there are no additional benefits. Similar to the two-round system, the candidate that gets over 50% is elected. If none of the candidates get over 50%, the top two go into the next round and the other two get 'eliminated'.

      I think the two round system and the supplementary voting systems are the best because it gives everyone a chance (STV does this as well). Also, it's a simple way to solve any disagreements.

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      1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
        balanced_singer's comment 18 Mar 2019

        Well done for explaining the different systems. Can you be more evaluative in your response? What are the weaknesses in each system, and what has led you to believe the systems you have chosen are better?

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        1. The-Ruth-Gorse-logo-250x250.jpg balanced_singer | The Ruth Gorse Academy
          Olivia @ the BNC's comment 18 Mar 2019

          Hi Olivia : )

          A disadvantage of FPTP could be that, as mentioned before, it doesn't seem very democratic to me. I think this because 'it's the minority that wins.' In 2015, the Conservative Party had won the election and had formed the government; however, only 36.9% of the people, who voted, chose to support the Conservatives. So let's say that one candidate had 32% of the votes, but the other 68% of votes were for the other three candidates. FPTP is more of a voting system where 'the winner takes all.' It focusses on the minority and not the majority.
          https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zcrsg82/revision/1

          Some disadvantages of AMS could be that there are multiple representatives. Having more than one MP could be confusing for some voters. Furthermore, there could be a risk of having a minority. This means that only one party could begin to form the whole government. Although AMS is 'proportional' representation, it's not the most proportional of representations. For example, the Scottish National Party received around 45% of the vote in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election but returned more than half the MSPs (69 out of 129). This was taken from a website. MSPs are members of the Scottish National Parliament.
          https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/guides/zt4hv4j/revision/1

          A disadvantage of the two-round system is that some votes go to waste. It's easy for the voters to understand but the space between the first round and the second round takes from 2-3 weeks. In the second round, voters have to worry about 'tactical voting' which isn't as easy as just ticking a box.
          https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/voting-systems/types-of-voting-system/two-round-system/

          If places like Scotland use STV they could end up with extremely large constituencies. The final result can't be given on the same day as the votes have taken place because they take extremely long to count. In larger constituencies, the ballot papers could be larger and harder to understand for voters. Also, the parties would know the candidates much better than the voters and the voters would only come into contact with the candidates just before the voting takes place.
          https://www.uk-engage.org/2013/06/what-are-the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-using-the-single-transferable-vote-stv-system/

          I think that the two-round system is the best one because it allows voters to have a second chance if they thought that what they put in the first round wasn't the best option. It encourages 'diverse interests.' This means that it allows voters to think about the different advantages of the different candidates ( I think ). The supplementary vote offers fewer wasted votes also there are less safe seats when you use SV.

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          1. Tiff-Avatar.jpg Tiff @ the BNC
            balanced_singer's comment 19 Mar 2019

            Voting systems other that FPTP can lead to more coalitions. This is where one party doesn't get enough 'seats' to form a majority so they have to join up with another party to make sure they have a majority. This is currently the case with the Conservative party and the DUP.

            What are some of the benefits and weaknesses of coalitions? Try to use examples in your explanation.

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            1. The-Ruth-Gorse-logo-250x250.jpg balanced_singer | The Ruth Gorse Academy
              Tiff @ the BNC's comment 19 Mar 2019

              Hi Tiff : )

              An advantage of coalitions is that it leads to broader representation. This means that there would be a wider range of people that believe that this one thing is right ( I think ). The two parties would have to make a compromise that results in statutory law. You also get a stronger government rather than a one that's trying to rule with a minority. Also, things that the whole country will get fulfilled most of the time. For example, a trade union may forme in order to represent and improve employees wages, benefits, and working conditions. This is fulfilling others needs through a coalition. As well as regional aspirations, having a coalition government also focusses on national needs.

              Some disadvantages of a coalition government are that its most likely to be unstable and fall apart. Coalitions are also not democratic. No one voted for the conservatives and DUP to become a coalition. When there is a coalition government, one party may have more power and take over. I had never heard of DUP before, only the Conservatives. In most cases, coalitions are formed through a 'political crisis': Brexit. The process of decision making could become long and time-consuming through coalitions. This may be because the two parties may not be able to come to terms with each other's ideas. Another disadvantage could be that national interest could be kept aside for accomplishing regional interest. An example of this was when the UPA government didn't conclude the water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh because West Bengal regional party had the view that it will restrict future developments.

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  • The-Ruth-Gorse-logo-250x250.jpg balanced_singer | The Ruth Gorse Academy
    16 Mar 2019

    I forgot to give my source. So here it is : )

    https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/voting-systems/types-of-voting-system/

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  • Birchwood-logo-250x250.jpg determined_orange | Birchwood C of E Primary School
    19 Mar 2019

    In our class we talked about Indirect and direct democracy.First, our teacher wrote so phrases down, then said: what to have for dinner,what time to go to bed , how long to brush your teeth and what you would wear. Next , she said 'which three would like to take control of?' I chose, what to have for dinner, how long to brush you teeth and what time to go to bed. Miss then said,this is just like Brexit because,you have the rights to vote and the responsability to do so and the MP to.Then, we got a piece of paper [every table got one]. We had to descuse it to the hole table [then soon to the hole class].They had questions with it . Miss then read the questions out to the hole class.We had to say which was indirect and direct democracy.

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    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      determined_orange's comment 20 Mar 2019

      Thanks for sharing what happened in your session, it sounds like you had some interesting discussions. How did you feel letting parents make decisions for you? And do you feel the same way about Brexit?

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  • Streatham-Wells-logo-250x250.jpg good_hedgehog | Streatham Wells Primary School A
    20 Mar 2019

    I think indirect democracy is unfair because people are not getting to speak for themselves someone is making the decisions for us and people are blocking what we think because we don't get to share our beliefs'

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  • John-Ruskin-logo-250x250.jpg flowing_science | John Ruskin
    20 Mar 2019

    Indirect democracy is when people vote for other people like mp's when they vote for us.

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  • Notley-Green-logo-250x250.jpg lovely_coyote | Notley Green Primary School
    21 Mar 2019

    indirect democracy is unfair as that only allows the mps to decide whereas the country should be deciding ( in my opinion )

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    1. Noel-Park-logo-250x250.jpg capable_wombat | Noel Park Primary School
      lovely_coyote's comment 06 Apr 2019

      But don't you think that if the country is voting for themselves then a simple decision can cause dilemma between families weather or not to choose something. Also , the MPs choose something for our own good and sometimes you might not like it but at least it will affect you in a good way , wouldn't it be annoying if there would be a referendum for every single little choice which would be easier to solve with a smaller amount of people like the MPs then it would be easier and still good for the public , wouldn't it?

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  • Arnhem-Wharf-logo-250x250.jpg quiet_horse | Arnhem Wharf Primary School
    31 Mar 2019

    When my parents were voting for whether to leave or stay in the EU, I had to help make my mums decision

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