Why are political values, beliefs and attitudes important to democracy? The answer to this question is rooted in the relationship between the beliefs of citizens and the effectiveness of democratic government. In essence, for a democracy to work properly its citizens need to share certain basic values and beliefs. To elaborate on this point, a citizen might be highly critical of the government of the day and strongly prefer another party to be in power. But this feeling represents no challenge to democracy and in fact helps to sustain the democratic process by encouraging that citizen to become involved. On the other hand, if the same citizen is highly critical of the political system as a whole and holds key institutions such as Parliament, the Civil Service and the Judiciary in contempt, this is a different matter. If most citizens think that politicians are corrupt and in it for what they can get, and the institutions they serve irrelevant or venal, then they are likely to ignore politics altogether or try to undermine government processes. If these views are widespread in society then democracy will not function effectively. Thus the values and beliefs citizens have about their own political system and their role in it are crucial to the effectiveness of democratic politics.
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