The Effects Of Pressure Groups On The Government

3205 words - 13 pages

The Effects of Pressure Groups on the Government

A pressure group is an organised interest group, which seek to
influence the formulation and the implementation of public policy. In
both the United Kingdom and the United States of America, membership
to political parties has decreased, meanwhile membership to pressure
groups have increased. Pressure groups differ from political parties
in that they do not seek to win political office; in addition, they
concern themselves with sectional policy rather than a wide range, and
therefore pressure groups aim to protect or advance a shared interest.

The first amendment of the US constitution claims citizens have the
“right of speech, petition and association”. Seeing as the
constitution is sovereign, it plays an essential role in protecting
the rights of organised interests. Americans favour the term interest
group to pressure group, as the word pressure implies force. In the
USA, nine out of ten people belong to an interest group and on average
an American belongs to four. The diverse and heterogeneous nature of
the USA, the weak parties, fragmented government and the expansion of
government activity have all led to the expansion and the success of
pressure group activity.

There is a misconception that the relationship between pressure groups
and government is always adversarial, however in reality, they are
advantageous in that, governmental ministers and civil servants often
consult pressure groups for information in order to make good
policies. They often seek information from several relevant groups, as
an interest groups approval can help legitimise a policy or even
enhance its chances of it being implemented.

After the Second World War, in the UK and USA most pressure groups
were organised around business, labour, agriculture and profession,
now not only is there an upsurge in the number of pressure groups,
there is also an increase in the number of concerns pressure groups
present. With the diminution in membership of political parties, it
appears that people would prefer to invest their energies in pressure
groups rather than parties. Within 50 years, membership to the Labour
Party has declined from one million to 280,000 members; the
Conservative Party’s membership has decreased even further from 3
million to 318,000. Meanwhile, membership to organisations such as the
National Trust (2.8 million members), and to the Royal Society (one
million) has increased. Jordan and Maloney said in 1997 “it may seem
parties are replaced by pressure groups but people prefer to do very
little in public interest groups as opposed to very little in
political parties.[1] People prefer pressure groups as they have more
chances to involve themselves in politics. They have a chance to
protest, petition and lobby which is all part of a healthy...

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