To What Extent was Britain a Democracy by 1900?
In order to answer the question: to what extent was Britain a democracy by 1900, we have tofirst define what a democracy actually is. Features of democracy are: when all adults are able to vote for the party of their choice without fear of
corruption, when there is a secret ballot which ensured fair elections, when all parts of the country are represented equally, when each person in different classes of society are allowed their own representatives and when there are a variety of
parties which follow differing ideals. In looking at each of these aspects of democracy we can decide whether or not Britain was a true democracy in 1900.
In 1850, only 4% of the entire population of Britain could vote to control who sat in The House of Lords. These were mainly people who owned their own homes or land. This meant that only the upper classes were getting to choose who was
representing the country in important matters. The existence of corruption also complicated matters further as people knew that despite the fact that they were voting for the leader of their choice, there were still people being paid to vote for the
party bribing them. This also lead to the overrepresentation of small areas of Britain and the South of England. There were also restrictions on people who could successfully become an MP and since MPs were not being paid large amounts
there were few people who wanted to leave their reasonable paid jobs to become MPs.Also the only parties which were available at the time were the Whigs and the Tories who only represented the middle and upper classes which casts
doubt on the fact that Britain was on the path to democracy.
There were changes to the franchise however between 1850 and 1900 which did indeed lead towards democracy. The percentage of men who could vote increased from 33% to 66%, a massive jump. After 1884, every single adult male was