Referenda to make political decisions

  • Created by: Elena.S
  • Created on: 25-05-17 20:10

Referenda to make political decisions


  • P: pure democracy; E: most direct form of democracy in representative democracy
  • P: legitimacy; E: people make direct decision; E: more referundums post-Blair i.e 1998: Good Friday Agreement, 1997: Scottish devolution
  • P: political participation; E: electorate have decisions in between elections so increase attachment to political institutions + education by widening opportunities; E: Lib Dems: new EU constitution in 2007/2008, elected mayors in London
  • P: internal conflict; E: solves conflict within gov.; E: 1975: referendum on EU membership
  • P: checks and balances; E: protects from overmighty gov. making too many decisions; E: liberal commitment to smaller state


  • P: voter apathy; E: if too referdums happen, people might not bother leading to low turnouts + apathy; E: 2005: devolution to north-east
  • P: popular sovereignty ; E: undermines respect + authority for elected institutions (parliamentary sovereignty)
  • P: majoritarianism; E: tyranny of the majority (minority interest swamped by power of democratic majority); E: Rousseau + JS Mill's fear of majoritarianism
  • P: too simplistic; E: complex issues condensed to yes or no; E: Euro or EU constitution
  • P: emotional response; E: voters don't respond rationally or make illogical choices; E: Euro votes or tax cuts that result in collapse of public services
  • P: media influence; E: potential for decision to be influenced by media campaigns or vested interests; E: California initiatives require 500,000 signatures and must campaign for more


Practical use of direct democracy but subject criticisms 


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