Wider Use of Referendums Improve Democracy

a) To what extent would the wider use of referendums improve democracy in the UK?
There are many ways in which referendums would directly and indirectly improve the democracy in the UK. These could include an improved political education, a more responsive government with reduced power and constitutional changes. However, with any improvements there are also arguments, which suggest that referendums could make democracy in the UK worse.

Firstly, a direct way is the fact that referendums give the general public direct and unmediated control over the government and decision-making. This improves the UK’s direct democracy as it ensures that the citizen’s views and ideas are taken into account when making important decisions that could affect the country’s welfare. Additionally, it ensures that decisions are not distorted by the desires of the government.
A less direct way, however still very effective in improving our democracy is by providing citizens with more opportunities for participating in political activities. For example, when people are asked to make a decision in a referendum, then people take it into their hands to make sure they educate themselves on the issue and become politically engaged. This therefore increases political education and improves political participation, which makes for a more democratic country as the citizen’s opinions are more greatly taken into account.

On the other hand, those who are poorly educated and lack interest in politics might make ill-informed decisions when voting ‘for’ or’ against’ the arising issue. In this case the UK’s democracy might be weakened, as the result of the referendum might not represent what might have been the outcome if the government had made a structured, knowledgeable decision that represented what the UK’s citizens wanted.

Nevertheless, referendums can make the government more responsive in a way that they force the government to listen to the public’s opinion. They also allow the...