Assess whether pressure groups are good for democracy.


Given that it holds substantial expertise, one consideration as to why pressure groups enhance democracy derives from the proposal of minority representation. Pressure groups are essential to improving the UK’s undemocratic majoritarian system which lacks legitimacy by continually marginalising smaller parties. During the 2015 General Elections, the Conservatives achieved 36.9 per cent of votes which totalled to 331 seats while UKIP’s 12.6 per cent only secured 1 seat. Due to first-past-the-post, the disproportionality in votes mirroring seats is perceived as standard (Johnston, et al., 2006). Accordingly, this two-party system grounds pressure groups as alternative means to boost democracy by representing minorities.However, beyond this advantage arises the factor that pressure groups worsen democracy by using its biased expertise as means to disregard the majority. Supported by the New Right theory, these groups prevent ‘democratically elected governments from taking… [an] unbiased view of the public interest’ (Baggott, 1995, p. 47). In attempt to represent marginal beliefs, pressure groups alter the tyranny of majority into tyranny of minority. This defects democracy as unelected bodies can modify acts by distributing matters into Parliament.  As pluralism denotes, pressure groups shape the construction of policies in contemporary democracies (Baggott, 1995). After numerous protests, Action on Smoking and Health (1971) succeeded in triggering a ban on smoking in public. Nevertheless, this triumph discloses the dangers of pressure groups in holding over-influence on decisions made in Parliament. As a prevailing insider pressure group in the US, the National Rifle Association (1871) seeks to hinder gun control regulations. Along with enjoying countless members and financial stability, this organisation comprises former representatives who access current officials via personal networks (Musa, 2016). The dominance in which the National Rifle Association attains through the Second Amendment evidently heightens the undemocratic nature of pressure groups. As with President Bush in 2000, this group holds a huge influence during Presidential Elections, which in turn hands them legislative power (Waldman, 2014). Its ability to exercise power on matters which no longer carry the standing it did in the largely scattered society of the late eighteenth-century questions the strength of democracy. Therefore, the purpose of excessively representing minority views makes pressure groups an undemocratic drive that averts the government from proceeding around national interests.

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