Liberal democracy is a form of social and political order - a legal state based on representative democracy, in which the will of the majority and the ability of elected representatives to exercise authority are restricted for protection of minority rights and freedoms of individuals. In the UK, formally hereditary monarch has the highest authority, but in fact that power has the people through their elected representatives; monarchy has in this state symbolic character. Liberal democracy is aimed at ensuring the equal right of every citizen to due process of law, right to vote, private liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. A typical element of liberal democracy is an open society characterized by pluralism, tolerance, coexistence and competition of a wide range of socio-political views. Thanks to periodic elections, each of the groups that hold different views has a chance to gain power. In practice, extremist or marginal points of view rarely play a significant role in the democratic process, because the public sees them as a threat to liberal democracy. However, the model of an open society hinders preservation of power by the ruling elite, guarantees the possibility of a bloodless change of power and creates incentives for the government to respond flexibly to the needs of society. In a liberal democracy, the political elite in power is not obliged to share all aspects of the ideology of liberalism (for example, it can advocate for democratic socialism). However, it is obliged to comply with the above-mentioned rule of law. (Sharun Mukand et al., 2015)
Although, liberal democracies include elements of direct democracy (referendums), the vast majority of sovereign state decisions are adopted by the government. The policy of this government must depend only on the representatives of the legislature and the Chief Executive, which are set as a result of periodic elections. One of the main provisions of liberal democracy is universal suffrage, which gives every adult citizen of the country equal right to vote, regardless of race, gender, wealth or education. The election results are determined solely by those citizens, who actually participated in the vote, but often voter turnout must exceed a certain threshold in order to the vote be considered valid. The most important task of electoral democracy is to ensure accountability of elected representatives before the nation. Therefore, elections and referendums must be free, fair and honest. They should be preceded by free and fair competition of spokesmen of different political views, combined with equality of opportunities for electoral campaigns. In practice, political pluralism is defined by the presence of several (at least two) political parties, which have significant power. In the UK there are a lot of parties such as Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and others. The choice of people should be free from the dominant influence of the military, foreign powers, totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or any other powerful groups.
Liberal democracy provides the accountability of government before the nation. If people are dissatisfied with the government's policy (because of corruption or excessive bureaucracy, attempts to bypass the laws, mistakes in economic policy and so on), then at the next elections the opposition has a high chance to win. After its coming to power, the most reliable way to stay - it is not to allow mistakes of the predecessors (to dismiss corrupt and inefficient officials, to observe the laws, to attract competent economists, and so on) Thus, liberal democracy ennobles the desire for power and forces the government to work for the good of the nation. This provides a relatively low level of corruption, which is under the authoritarian regime can be achieved only at the cost of extremely rigid dictatorship. In fact, every person for some features is related to certain minorities, so in conditions of comprehensive submission to the will of the majority civil rights are suppressed. Under the conditions of liberal democracy it has opposite effects because it makes the current majority consider themselves as temporary coalition and therefore treat with attention to the point of view of the minority. Due to the fact that a minority is able to influence the decision-making process, liberal democracy provides protection of private property for wealthy people, social protection for the poor, as well as smoothing the cultural, ethnic and religious conflicts. Thus, liberal democracy as a method of exercising power is democratic governance, under which interests of the majority are realized taking into account interests of minorities. It allows minority to have certain guarantees for the protection of their rights. The emergence of these groups is caused by the fact that every citizen belongs to the circle of people, who have certain narrow interests that are closely related to their daily lives. This is opposite to dictatorship rule, when choosing a policy is dominated by the preferences of one group. People give consent to the submission to the will of the majority by the very fact of their participation in the democratic process (in particular, in the elections). Participation in the voting may not be a sign of consent to obey the results of the elections, but an attempt to influence the outcome. (John Higley et al., 2006)
The subject of the disputes is the question about best for democratic society electoral system in legislative bodies. According to a simple classification, electoral system can be plurality, proportional and group voting systems, although in practice mixed variants are also common. Under the plurality voting system the territory is divided into districts with approximately the same population, each district elects one representative. Under this system elected is the one who had collected the majority of votes, and the votes cast for other candidates is lost. In the UK, which has long democratic traditions, political life is for a long time monopolized by the political parties, representatives of which are basically just running for elections and then form in parliament or another representative body relevant party fractions, which operate orderly. In the UK acts the system of relative majority, in which elected is considered the candidate, who receives more votes than any other candidate. Practically the more candidates are running for one seat, the less votes are required for the election. If there are more than two dozen candidates, the candidate who received 10 percent of the votes or even less may be elected. In addition, in legislation of a number of countries where this system is used, any mandatory participation of voters in voting is not provided, there is no minimum share of their participation necessary for the election to be valid. In the UK, for example, if in the electoral district one candidate is nominated, he is considered as elected without a vote, it is enough if he votes for himself. Since under this system a significant portion of the votes, i.e. all votes cast for unsuccessful candidates, disappears, it often turns out that the party, candidates of which in the country was supported by the majority of voters, receives a minority of seats in the House of Parliament. (Pippa Norris, 1997)
In the UK, the practice of plurality voting system of relative majority led to a paradoxical situation: the absolute majority of seats in the lower house of parliament, and therefore, the right to form a single-party government, received the party, which received generally less votes than the losing party. The electoral system of Great Britain, as well as any electoral system has a number of drawbacks, such as a significant part of the population remains unrepresented in the government, and the party, which received in the elections less votes than its rivals, may be represented in Parliament by a majority of parliamentary seats. The results of the elections under this system depends not only on how the voters vote, but also on how their votes are distributed in electoral districts and these districts are distributed across the country. At the same time the majority system used in the UK is simple and understandable. It does not require any complicated calculations or unclear for ordinary voters maneuvers with the general lists. One of its advantages - a close relationship between deputies and voters. Since the districts are the single-member, each member in the singular represents his district. In the elections are not competing faceless lists, but candidates whose personal qualities are not indifferent to the voters. Among the positive properties of the plurality electoral system is the fact that there is the possibility of formation of a stable and efficient working of the government. It allows large, well-organized political parties easily winning the elections and creating one-party government. Created on this basis government bodies are stable and able to hold a firm government policy. In most countries with plurality voting system the citizens are not satisfied with the mechanism of majority voting and they would like to move to a system of proportional representation, while at the same time in the proportional representation there are rare appeals to the majority system. One of the reasons of proportional representation system popularity is awareness by citizens of the fact that the results of the majoritarian elections are inherently unfair and undemocratic. Since World War II, none of the ruling parties in Britain came to power by the will of the voters: they all got the power, contrary to that the majority of citizens voted against them. Critics of this system point to the fact that it tends to ignore the interests of minorities, who are often forced partially to sacrifice their personalities in order to make their voice heard. In the elected bodies minorities are represented less than in the community, an important role plays the location of the boundaries between electoral districts. (Ed. William A. Darity, 2008)
The obvious injustice towards participating in the elections political parties, which often bears the majority system, has created a system of proportional representation of political parties and movements, with the abbreviation proportional system. This voting system can give the most democratic results. In elections under the proportional system, parliamentary seats are distributed among candidate lists in proportion to the votes cast for candidate lists, if the candidates have overcome percent barrier. The requirement for proportional representation sometimes rises to constitutional level. From parties is required clarity of programs. Minorities can also afford more clearly to express their views, therefore the proportional system is the most popular among those, who value equality as the moral foundation of democracy. The single transferable vote system in theory is the most fair because it allows to combine the personal choice with ensuring proportional representation of political parties. However, its spread is prevented by certain technical complexity of determining the election results. The system of proportional representation allows each political party obtain the number of seats proportional to the number of votes. That's why this system may seem more equitable than the plurality voting system. If the quota is low enough, the smaller parties also get seats. The most diverse groups of voters can provide seats for their representatives, and therefore the result of the elections is considered by the population as fair. Under this system, voters tend to vote for the candidates, who are close to their own position, not for candidates who have a greater chance to be elected. The system of proportional representation with open lists allows voters choose a candidate as well as a political party, and thus, the influence of the parties on the personal composition of their representatives in the Parliament is reduced . The proportional system with low passing barrier allows most adequately reflect in the Parliament the entire spectrum of political forces of the country according to their actual influence on the masses. In this system, there is less likelihood of getting representatives of criminal structures or shady business into Parliament, which are capable by not quite legal means to provide themselves a victory in the elections in the regions. (Elena Cincea, 2012)
Sharun Mukand&Dani Rodrik. (2015). The political economy of liberal democracy. Institute for Advanced Study Press, 1-7.
John Higley&Michael G. Burton. (2006). Elite Foundations of Liberal Democracy. Rowman&Littlefield Pubishers, 139-141.
Pippa Norris. (1997). Choosing Electoral Systems: Proportional, Majoritarian and Mixed Systems. Harvard University Press, 1-4.
Ed. William A. Darity. (2008). Electoral systems, Majority rule, Multiparty systems. Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 1-10.
Elena Cincea. (2012). Proportionality or majoritarianism? In search of electoral equity. University of Craiova Press, 176-190.