Examine and Assess the Idea That the Authority of the State to Govern Is Always Contested

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Examine and assess the idea that the authority of the state to govern is always contested
This essay will explore the assertion above by considering democratic governing, ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, and international relations including the UN. It will conclude that the state’s authority is always and necessarily contested, and its reaction to such challenges is partially related its system of government. Modern-day politics commonly follows a democratic system, and this in itself can lead to further contestation of the state. The ‘state’ refers to the politicians that comprise the leadership, along with the ‘machinery of government’ that allow laws and policies to be enforced. These include those agencies with coercive powers,
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It may be considered whether the election process can be considered to be ‘contesting the state’? It is, after all, a legitimate process which is endorsed by the state itself. In recent UK elections 35% of citizens did not vote (BBC, accessed June 2010), suggesting a significant minority of citizens do not feel it is necessary to participate in this type of political ‘contestation.’
The recent introduction of the citizen initiative within UK politics, which is already common in the US (‘Citizens of the state,’ 2009, track 1) shows how democracy further encourages contestation. If enough citizen support can be gathered for an issue (through petitioning) then a referendum will be held. This is illustrative of democracies handing power over to the people, which can result in debate over governmental policies and decisions. A democratic system features oppositional parties who have frequent opportunities to contest policies or actions that the elected party wish to implement. The recent televised election debates in Britain are an example of this, where not only were citizens given an opportunity to question political agendas and policies, but all political parties had an opportunity to contest each other.
In the UK Parliament the governing party’s authority is frequently challenged by opposing parties. Often within a political party there will be challenges to the authority of the leadership – ‘votes of no
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