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Pressure groups enable particular interests and causes to be heard and to exert influence in public decision and decision-making.Yet it is precisely the representation of specialist interests and of single issues which may give cause for concern, both in terms of the methods used to achieve objectives and of the undue power and influence which particular lobbies can exert.Democracy is a system of government where decisions are arrived at by majoritarian principles with representatives elected at periodic elections where political equality and political freedom allow the voter an effective choice between competing candidates in a secret ballot. In the pluralist model of democracy, pressure groups play an essential role.
Pressure groups enable new concerns and issues to reach the political agenda, thereby facilitating social progress and preventing social stagnation.
For example, the women’s and environmentalist movements.
The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was led by William Wilberforce and Thomas Clarkson and successfully campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade.
(Jones, 2004, p233) Pressure groups are formed by a group of people who share a common interest or goal.
This consultative role is built up if a group has demonstrated a number of features: Authority – the ability of the group to speak on behalf of all of its members.
Information – the group has expertise and information on a specific subject.Pressure groups assist the surveillance of the government by exposing information it would rather keep secret, thereby reinforcing and complementing work of opposition through political parties.Pressure groups thereby improve the accountability of decision makers to electorates.Pressure groups themselves may not be representative of their members. Few groups have procedures for consulting their members.As a result, the views expressed by group officials may not be shared by the group’s members.This is a good thing as everyone as a whole is being accepted and a broad range of people’s rights are being considered including minorities.This is very democratic as everyone is accounted for and everyone’s interest are represented in decision making whether you are involved or inactive. This is defined as pluralism, as they spread power more evenly and widely.Pressure group activity gives people hope that they can make a difference. The ruling class would rather that people put their energies into pressure group activities, which do not question the fundamentals of the system than into political activity, which seriously challenges the right of the elite to govern.The in-egalitarian way that some groups operate increases social discontent and political instability by intensifying the sense of social frustration and injustice felt by disadvantaged and excluded sections of the population.Large-scale demonstrations mounted by any group may lead to unpleasant clashes without the police, sometimes involving militants with their own agenda.This level of civil disobedience cannot be justified in today’s democratic system.