Do referendums enhance democracy or not?


Referendums are a direct and general vote on a simple yet divisive political question. The UK has had an increase in the use of referendums since 1975. Direct democracy is achieved through referendums, which can be seen as a good way of enhancing democracy rather than representative democracy. However, referendums are not part of the UK because we are representative. There is currently a clash between direct and representative democracy. This essay will explore which of the two sides has the more powerful argument.

A strong argument in favour of enhancing democracy is that they allow the people to express an answer to a political question, without relying on the personal views of their representatives. An example being, the AV referendum and the Welsh Assembly. Allowing people to have a say in the decision making fulfils the wishes of the people. As a result, this lets the people become more involved and develop an interest in politics. Therefore, this increases political participation. Some would say that referendums provide an educative function for the public and reduces the democratic deficit. Therefore, by having more referendums will mean that parliament and government will be less powerful, as they tend to have dictatorial powers over us. However, others would disagree as many young people don't take an interest in politics or people can be indecisive when voting. Therefore, it may not clearly reflect the public views. Low turnouts don't give a clear reflection of public votes. An example being the AV referendum (2011) where the turnout was as low as 42%. This has resulted in less people voting as they feel that their votes don't count. Voters who live in marginal constituencies can say their vote counts.

On balance on this point, the direction of this essay will be to argue that reducing the democratic…


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