By David Beetham

Because the U.S. strives to set up democracy in Iraq and contemplates its personal democratic procedure within the wake of a chain of arguable presidential elections, David Beetham bargains new insights into democracy. He seems at actual examples reminiscent of the function of the citizen and the way huge companies impact democracy in addition to considering the way forward for democracy within the built and constructing worlds.

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Now, suppose that this distribution of national party support were to be reflected in each individual constituency. Under a plurality electoral system, party A would win one hundred per cent of the seats in parliament, although on only forty per cent of the national vote; and there would be no representation for the other sixty per cent of voters. Could such a system be sustainable? Of course, it never happens in as extreme a form as this. But under this system, everything depends on the particular degree of concentration of party support in individual constituencies.

It has been calculated for the UK, for example, that around sixty per cent of funding of the voluntary sector now comes from government through various channels. Despite these qualifications, however, it remains true that membership and participation in voluntary associations is one of the most effective ways through which the views and interests of likeminded citizens can be brought to bear upon government in an organised fashion. And if we feel that our opinions have been simply ignored, whether by government or our fellow citizens, then there is always the possibility of more short-term forms of action with others: mass demonstrations, sit-ins and other forms of public protest.

Ware, Alan. Citizens, Parties and the State. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987. 042 01/11/2004 4:32 PM Page 44 chapter three sources of disillusion in the ‘old’ democracies In chapter 1 I set out the basic ideas or principles of democracy, and in chapter 2 I showed how these ideas are realised in practice through the institutional arrangements of a representative democracy. My presentation in both chapters has been positive and ‘upbeat’: how democracies at best can and should work. It is now time to take a much harder look at how democracies actually perform in practice.

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