How Denocratic a country was Britain by 1914 Essay
How democratic a country was Britain in 1914?
During the late 19th and early 20th Century, several acts were passed by Parliament in an effort to make Britain more democratic. However, whether Britain was completely democratic by 1914 is an issue for debate. In order to decide how democratic Britain was we mustfirst establish what a democracy is. The nine major factors which make a system democratic involve providing a secret ballot to ensure privacy, holding regular elections to make sureit is the government wanted by the people who are in power. A democratic system has universal suffrage and similarly anyone can stand for election, making sure everyone has their say in who represents them. Persons in charge should be elected representatives of the people and the government should be by majority. Everyone should have freedom of speech and protection in law as basic human rights. These are the factors that constitute a democracy, but how many of these were fulfilled in 1914?
In 1884 the Franchise Act was passed. This meant the voting population was up to six million. It does not bring universal suffrage but two thirds of all males in Britain were now eligible to vote. This was a vast improvement from the early 19th Century when only one in ten men had the vote. This statistic was improved to one in five after the 1832 Great Reform Act. The 1884 Act was therefore a major step towards democracy as it provided suffrage to many more people than in previous years.
Prior to the 1872 Secret Ballot Act landlords and employers had a major influence over many people. In some cases, if you voted against them (i.e. not for their favoured party) you might lose your home or job. This pressure forced many people into voting differently than they would have done without this pressure. The 1870 Government Committee of Enquiry found that bribery and'treating' were common and so the Secret Ballot Act was meant to res