Direct Democracy and Referendums

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter outlines the history of the use of the referendum and outlines why politicians have resorted to using referendums. While referendums may be justified on the grounds that they provide legitimacy to controversial decisions, the empirical and statistical evidence suggests that referendums are generally held due to political expediency. Looking at the practical conduct of referendums, this chapter suggests that those in office tend to lose them if they have been in government positions for a long time. Finally, the chapter suggests that provisions for referendums are correlated with economic growth, as well as a higher Human Development Index.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Electoral Systems
EditorsErik Herron, Robert Pekkanen, Matthew Shugart
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9780190258658
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2018


  • Referendums
  • electoral reform
  • Direcr Democracy
  • Democracy

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