The chapter presents an overview of referendums on electoral reform using the 2011 British referendum on AV as a comparative case study. The chapter shows that voters, contrary to the received wisdom – are not inclined to vote no, and that there have been several examples of electoral reforms, which have been endorsed in referendums.
Using the example of the European Union, the chapter analyses referendums on European Integration and finds that voters, by and large, are informed about the issues and that the outcomes of referendums on the subject reflect the preferences of the voters.
The chapter presents an analysis of the reasons why the Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty in the referendum in 2008. It is shown that class-voting is still a potent factor explaining the outcomes of referendums.
The chapter analyses the use of initiatives in the USA and other countries. The chapter shows that the use of initiatives does not lead to political paralysis and that the initiative – occasionally – leads to more trust in politicians
A comparative analysis of the experiences in EU countries
The citizens’ Initiative – which allows citizens to propose legislation- has been used in several European countries. The chapter outlines the effects and implications of this often overlooked institution
The chapter presents one of the first ever comparative analyses of the recall. IT is concluded that the recall is a modest and rarely used mechanism which rarely lead to the recall of elected officials. In a historical section the chapter shows how the recall has been advocated by political theorists such as Marx and Lenin.
Drawing on the insights of political theory as well as empirical and comparative government, the book provides an up-to-date overview of the theories and practice of referendums and initiatives around the world. The book discusses if we ought to hold more referendums, and how the processes of direct democracy have been used – and occasionally abused -around the world.
The chapter discusses how the courts increasingly have been involved in controlling direct legislation. Using a case study of the United States, the tendency of the court to annul legislation adopted by the people is discussed critically.