Flashcards in 17.2m Campaign Finance and Pressure Groups Deck (10)
In the US political parties are weaker and decentralised, and so people look towards pressure groups for political engagement.
In the UK the political parties are stronger and more centralised.
However, people still look towards pressure groups to cover issues that the main political parties do not.
Both the US and UK have outsider pressure groups who work to influence public opinion.
One way outsider groups influence public opinion is through grassroots activity.
During 2011, both countries had ‘Occupy’ movements - “Occupy London”, and “Occupy Wall Street”, who used similar methods of protest to create attention and support for their causes.
In both executive branches, pressure groups have more influence - ministers in the UK and cabinet members in the US may consult with pressure groups.
In the US pressure groups can bring cases to the Supreme Court.
Groups challenge laws on the basis that they are unconstitutional.
Citizens United vs FEC was brought by Citizens United, a conservative political campaigning nonprofit.
In the UK there is an uncodified and unentrenched constitution, so every new law passed is constitutional.
The Supreme Court cannot strike down laws in the same way as in the US.
So, pressure groups cannot challenge laws that aren’t in their interests as being unconstitutional.
In both the US and UK, corporations and pressure groups hire lobbyists to influence political decision-makers.
In the UK lobbyists can be more successful lobbying cabinet members and political parties instead of individual MPs, because of party discipline.
UK party discipline
UK political parties have stronger discipline than US parties, and so UK MPs are more likely to follow leadership and party direction.
Therefore, pressure groups are less likely to influence individual MPs.
If MPs vote against the party line they risk being unable to sit in parliament as a member of that party.
US party discipline
Party discipline in the US is weaker than in the UK, and so individual representatives have more control over how they vote.
The primary system means that voters can choose who they wish to nominate for a party, rather than the party choosing.
So, representatives don’t have to worry about losing the party support for voting against them.
US campaign finance and party funding 1
In the US, candidates use financial donations to fund their campaigns. Money is spent on travel, accommodation, polling and their campaign team.
Reforms include the 2002 McCain-Feingold reforms which stopped party committees raising ‘soft money’ and required candidates to verbally endorse all campaign advertising.
The 2010 Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court case gave businesses the right to unlimited financing of presidential campaigns.
Super PACs (political action committees) in America spend unlimited money on supporting or opposing a candidate without directly funding them.
US campaign finance and party funding 2
Presidential candidates can receive some state funding through matching funds.
US campaigns are often reliant on money from wealthy individuals and companies, which many people see as being controversial.
People argue that this means wealthy individuals and companies have influence over election policy.
In 2018 Tom Steyer and his company Fahr LLC donated $41 million to the Democratic party.
In 2018 the Koch brothers donated $9 million to the Republican party.