Direct Democracy Worldwide

David Altman

Language: English

Pages: 266

ISBN: 1107427096

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Challenging the common assumption that models of direct democracy and representative democracy are necessarily at odds, Direct Democracy Worldwide demonstrates how practices of direct and representative democracy interact under different institutional settings and uncovers the conditions that allow them to coexist in a mutually reinforcing manner. Whereas citizen-initiated mechanisms of direct democracy can spur productive relationships between citizens and political parties, other mechanisms of direct democracy often help leaders bypass other representative institutions, undermining republican checks and balances. The book also demonstrates that the embrace of direct democracy is costly, may generate uncertainties and inconsistencies, and in some cases is easily manipulated. Nonetheless, the promise of direct democracy should not be dismissed. Direct democracy is much more than a simple, pragmatic second choice when representative democracy seems not to be working as expected. Properly designed, it can empower citizens, breaking through some of the institutionalized barriers to accountability that arise in representative systems.

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Democracy, as we understand it today, is the long fusion, and sometimes confusion, of political traditions at least centuries long. Athenian democracy, despite its highly restrictive (by today’s standards) enfranchisement rules, demonstrated the fairest imaginable distribution of power among its agents. It also exemplified the value of a political milieu that excels through the equality and sovereignty of its (few) members. With Republicanism – first Roman and then Florentine – came the concept of mutual control as the means for citizens to be free from state domination and arbitrary misbehaviors.

Based on Initiative & Referendum Institute (2007), The National Conference of State Legislatures (2008), and the author’s calculations. Direct Democracy at the Turn of the Century 7 find criteria that can travel relatively easily from one place to another. Some colleagues fall into the temptation of studying MDDs from a purely formal perspective, based on the names that constitutional texts provide for direct democracy, but research may only proceed if we eschew this and do not become entangled in semantic confusion.

Terms of the Debate Surrounding Direct Democracy 49 failure is provided by the CI-MDD’s presence. If a CI-MDD is deployed, it means that, as a mechanism of threat, it did not work. Yet do legislators really take into consideration potential MDDs when they legislate? Empirical research supports this tenet: More than 70 percent of Uruguayan legislators consider that the presence of a potential referendum is a sufficient reason to look for a broad consensus within the political parties (for further discussion, see Chapter 8 and Appendix 2).

Current literature on direct democracy tends to assume that the use of MDDs is on the rise worldwide. This assessment is usually based on a simple count of MDDs in a given series of years (e. g. , by year, by decade), but it does not necessarily mean that countries are using more MDDs than before. Evidently, an increase in MDDs does not tell us anything regarding the spread of MDDs cross-nationally because the number of polities in the world has increased almost exponentially; thus, it is urgent to control for the number of countries before making any informed assessment.

3 percent voting “yes” and 46. 5 percent voting “no” based on six hundred polling stations. The Committee for Free Elections later indicated that the “yes” had obtained 44. 6 percent of the vote versus the 55. 2 percent “no” vote garnered by the opposition. At that moment, a critical juncture had been reached by the leaders of the National Renovation (Renovacion ´ Nacional) party – a right-wing party that was a sympathizer of the coup d’´etat, which also had a parallel apparatus for tallying the votes and whose information was similar to that of the “no” vote headquarters.

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