The Effects Of Pressure Groups On The Government

2126 words - 9 pages

The Effects of Pressure Groups on the Government

Before deciding whether pressure groups democratise government or make
them more effective, it is essential to define what a pressure groups
consists of. A modern democratic society involves active citizenship,
an open government, the right to vote over the age of 18 years,
community, free speech, participation and pluralism. Although
elections provide an effective opportunity for people to play a part
in politics they are only held once every four years, therefore
pressure groups provide continuous involvement in politics.

Pressure groups provide an open freedom for citizens, especially
minority groups. When like-minded individuals organise events such as
demonstrations, campaigns and petitions, governments have no option
but to sit up and take notice. Moreover, as pressure groups are based
on a single issue, which a large group of people support, they can put
their time and effort into being heard by the government.

In the USA however, the term “pressure group” is not favoured amongst
academics. They see it as a tool that implies force rather than
persuasion, thus refer to them as “interest groups”[1]. This issue
will be discussed further in the American politics part of this essay.

Pressure Groups In Britain

Stereotype has it that the relationship between pressure groups and
the government is adversarial. However pressure groups often prove
they are very useful by providing information to government ministers
and civil servants if they lack information on policies, particularly
controversial issues. Pressure groups provide a “Pro and Anti”
argument when controversial issues are raised in parliament,
henceforth it can be argues that pressure groups help departments make
wiser policies for the people, democratising its appeal amongst

Pressure groups support or acceptance of a particular policy can help
to legitimise it, therefore increasing its chances of a successful
implementation. When governments are formulating policies, they
consult certain groups, e.g. The Ministry of Agriculture. Wyn Grant
has distinguished these as ‘insider’ groups. Groups that do not have
access to Whitehall such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
(CND), is categorised as ‘outsider’ groups.[2]

Pressure groups help disperse power, and ask for check on
over-powerful legislatures and executives. They provide functional
representation according to occupation and belief. They apply scrutiny
to governmental activity whilst publicising poor practise. Media
campaigns also raise public awareness of agendas within government,
allowing for continuous representation between elections therefore
enhancing the level of participation. Consequently democratically
elected governments are seen as more effective both from the inside

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