Why are referenda held?

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There are many different reasons why a referendum may be held, although mostly it is because the issue will be concerned with important constitutional changes. As the UK has an uncodified constitution, any change to the constitution should either be done on a mandate, or put to the people by a referendum to limit executive power and provide a 'check and balance'.

The reasons for a referendum include:

  • constitutional change - the electorate is considered to be well informed and so insists on being consulted. It also has the effect of entrenching the changes as future governments and parliaments will not be able to reverse the changes unless they again consult the people, so the changes…


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