Matt Qvortrup
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The myth of populist referendums
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This chapter analyses whether referendums have gone from being a shield against executive dominance to being a weapon in the hands of the executive. It presents an analysis of all the votes held in different countries since 1973 to shed light on whether referendums and plebiscites have become more associated with populism and semi-authoritarian tendencies. The chapter examines the reasons for the increase in the number of referendums in Free states and democracies like the United Kingdom. Citizen-initiated referendums come in two forms: initiatives (which allow voters to propose legislation) and citizen-initiated referendums (which allow voters to hold a vote on an already enacted law or bills before they are promulgated). The chapter also looks at plebiscites in Not Free states where they are held not merely to confer legitimacy upon an autocratic regime but also to signal the total control of the authoritarian government.

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