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Example UK Politics Essay: to what extent do referendums enhance democracy?

Ruth Tarrant

10th May 2016

Given that democracy is effectively “rule by the people”, then the direct democracy achieved through referendums can, at first glance, be seen as a good way of enhancing democracy compared with representative democracy. However, there is great political debate regarding the role of referendums in democracy. Clement Attlee famously said that referendums were “alien to our traditions” and “the devices of demagogues and dictators”. However, Robert Hazell of the Constitution Unit has described referendums as “an important legitimising mechanism” for government policy, and Professor Vernon Bogdanor has said that it is “illusory” in today’s climate “to believe that you can confine legislative matters solely to parliamentarians”. This essay will explore which of the two sides has the more powerful argument.

Ruth Tarrant

Ruth has been an enthusiastic Head of Economics and Politics for many years, having taught in a variety of schools and at university level. She is also a Senior Examiner. Ruth is passionate about boosting the quality of teaching and learning across all subjects in schools and colleges.

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