The chapter presents a comprehensive historical overview of the practice of referendums and direct democracy in Europe from Napoleon to the present day. Is shows trends and patterns and analyses the policy effects of more Democracy on demand
The chapter surveys the regulation of referendums. It shows how countries have sought to limit campaign spending and have given subsidies to campaigns to ensure a level playing field. In a path-breaking session, the chapter shows how it is possible to limit and regulate the influence of targeted online abuse of the process of direct democracy.
Using the US states with provisions for the recall as the main example, the chapter surveys the history and practice of the recall. It shows that the right to revoke elected politicians’ mandates can be an effective way of holding politicians to account. The right of recall does not lead to chaos but improves representative government.
The chapter surveys different countries’ experiences with democracy on demand. Focusing on the initiative in the United States, it looks at the quality of legislation in a direct democracy, the policy implications of initiatives and the effect of these on the economy. The chapter also analyses the experiences with initiatives in Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand. In addition, the chapter looks at the effects of agenda initiatives using the example of Denmark.
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