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Robert Lister Nicholls

The result of the 1975 referendum had highly significant consequences for Labour's position on Europe. Although it did not have to, there was at least an obligation on the government to take into account the will of the people and remain committed to membership of the Common Market. The referendum defeat for the left, however, was certainly not the end of the debate – indeed far from it. Offered for reasons of party unity, the referendum contributed to a further fracturing of the elite and the general population on the issue of Europe. It is

in The British political elite and Europe, 1959–1984
Matt Qvortrup

“It is in general a necessary condition of free institutions, that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities”, wrote John Stuart Mill in Considerations on representative government 1 . It was this sentiment that prompted groups in multinational countries to seek referendums in recent years; to

in Democracy on demand
Direct or representative democracy?
Philip Norton

Referendums are ballots in which electors are asked not to elect, but to pass judgment on a single question or, less usually, set of questions. Their use is frequent in some nations – the world leader is Switzerland, where they are held frequently – and infrequent or impermissible in others. 1 In the United States, they are employed in some states, but a nation-wide referendum is not possible under the US constitution. An attempt in the 1930s to amend the constitution, to provide for one on the issue of war (the Ludlow amendment), failed in the House of

in Governing Britain
Matt Qvortrup

“We need a referendum based on facts”, wrote a commentator in an op-ed after the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom 1 . The question addressed in this chapter is how or, indeed, if, referendums can be compatible with this ideal; in other words, if a large-scale direct democratic exercise grounded in “facts” is possible. In the concrete case, the

in Democracy on demand
Campaign spending
Matt Qvortrup

After the referendum in Schleswig-Holstein in 1920, Sarah Wambaugh, an American expert on referendums, concluded: Democracy cannot be served by faulty plebiscites [we would call them referendums]. If we are to keep the tool, we must learn how to use it

in Democracy on demand
Can one have too much democracy?
Marcel H. Van Herpen

Some analysts suggest that the present crisis of liberal democracy is a sign that our democratic system has become obsolete and no longer represents the will of the people. Their conclusion is that we urgently need more democracy and, in particular, more direct democracy. According to the proponents of this view, plebiscites, referendums, and popular initiatives would provide, if not a complete and sufficient solution, at least an indispensable means for the popular will to express itself more directly. These analysts do not normally pay attention to the

in The end of populism
Matt Qvortrup

IN 1992, Frederik W. de Klerk, the president of South Africa, was in trouble. Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and there were signs that South Africa would finally end the apartheid regime, which had made the country an international pariah. Not all whites were happy with de Klerk. His National Party was losing by-elections and this threatened the legitimacy of the process towards ending apartheid. The president reacted resolutely. He needed a mandate and he needed to regain momentum. He called a referendum, in which the white South Africans were

in Government by referendum
Matt Qvortrup

Introduction In this chapter I trace the history of the referendum from its earliest origins to its present-day use – or, some would say, abuse. After a tour d’horizon of the earlier use of the direct democracy, it first presents a historical overview of the use of referendums from the Renaissance through to the First World War. It is pointed out that the referendum – contrary to assertions by Tuck ( 2016 ) – can be traced back to the fifteenth century. Despite the term’s earlier use, the referendum began to be used in earnest only in the nineteenth century

in Government by referendum
Matt Qvortrup

M801 QVORTRUP TEXT MAKE-UP.qxd 5/4/07 1:42 PM Page 115 Gary Gary's G4:Users:Gary:Public:Gar 8 Decisions to hold referendums in the UK Beginning with a history of referendums in the UK, this chapter considers the process of the initiation of referendums in the UK. While referendums in the 1970s were held as a result of intra-party divisions (i.e. in order to avoid political splits), those held or proposed by the New Labour Government since 1996 seem to suggest that referendums are being used for a variety of reasons, including to give legitimacy to

in The politics of participation

This book discusses the framing of referendum campaigns in the news media, focusing particularly on the case of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Using a comprehensive content analysis of print and broadcast coverage as well as in-depth interviews with broadcast journalists and their sources during this campaign, it provides an account of how journalists construct the frames that define their coverage of contested political campaigns. It views the mediation process from the perspective of those who participate directly in it, namely journalists and political communicators. It puts forward an original theoretical model to account more broadly for frame building in the context of referendums in Western media systems, using insights from this and from other cases. The book makes an original contribution to the study of media frames during referendums.