By Hilary Wainwright for Red Pepper – The struggle for the vote for workers and for women was resisted at every stage, and when universal suffrage was finally won, every effort was made to blunt and control its impact through institutional devices. These included second chambers, disproportional electoral systems, executive powers and, most importantly, a rigid separation of politics from economics. Any historical study shows us that the elites, political and economic, fear the demands, desires and collective power of the people. Hence it must be mediated and dissipated before it touches on the centres of power. The end result is minimalist democracy: periodic votes choosing different leaders.