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.
Political parties cannot provide adequate representation for the full range of diverse interests and opinions in a modern democracy because their key function is to aggregate interests into a coherent political entity capable of governing the country.
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.
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.