Insider Pressure Groups

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Pressure groups play a vital role within the increasingly complex and multicultural electorate. A single Member of Parliament, Representative or Senator has a diverse constituency base to represent, which makes it difficult to represent a variety of often conflicting interests. This is where pressure groups are critical to representative democracy as they allow the interests of specific groups to be represented by an organisation that is dedicated to them and understands them fully. Whilst this is a positive argument, pressure groups with vast amounts of power make this vital function of representation difficult to carry out fairly for all pressure groups involved.
The structure of a representative democracy entails “a form of government where
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Legislators often utilise the agenda-building function of pressure groups to obtain information on specific legislative issues because pressure groups, particularly insider groups, are “recognised by government as legitimate spokespersons for particular interests or causes” (Grant, 2004, p. 408). This assumption can often be taken advantage of by insider pressure groups, as they are often able to “hire the most skilful and eloquent lobbyists, some of whom obviously gave a higher priority to pleasing their clients.” (Garnett and Lynch, 2012, p.…show more content…
Pressure group strategy and influence are “determined largely by factors such as size…financial resources, prestige position of the organization, quality of leadership and staff, and relations with the political parties…” (Turner, 1958, p. 64). It is these factors that make pressure groups, to some extent, incompatible with representative democracy as some groups are able to make their views heard ‘louder’ due to factors which can be difficult for them to change, such as the prestigious position of an interest group.
For example, take the work done by various human rights pressure groups. Whilst there are many groups working to campaign and tackle the breadth of human rights abuse around the world, the first group that comes to mind for many is Amnesty International. The use of “mass media of communication to influence public attitudes” (Turner, 1958, p68) has allowed Amnesty International to gain a prestige over other human rights pressure groups, meaning that the equally vital work done by fellow groups such as Liberty may not be able to be represented as well to various global governments. This prestige enjoyed by some groups makes prestigious and powerful pressure groups incompatible with representative democracy because some
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