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Political Science in Europe

Referendums: Beyond the Direct/Indirect Dichotomy

Political Theory
Referendums and Initiatives
Decision Making
Normative Theory
Panel Number
Panel Chair
André Bächtiger
Universität Stuttgart
Panel Co-Chairs
Alice el-Wakil
University of Zurich
Spencer McKay
University of British Columbia
Panel Discussant
Ronald Van Crombrugge
University of Leuven

23/08/2018 11:00 - 12:40
Building: VMP 8 Floor: 2 Room: 205
Since Brexit, a number of referendum processes - including votes on independence in Catalonia and Kurdistan, ending civil war in Columbia, constitutional reform in Turkey, abortion in Ireland, and same sex marriage in Australia - have led many to ask: are referendums good for democracy? Existing answers to this question are often situated in a debate about "representative" and "direct democracy." However, this approach is increasingly acknowledged as an "outdated" (Budge 2006, 2) and misleading "caricature" (Tierney 2012, 14).
Surprisingly little work has been done to develop a path beyond the direct/indirect approach to referendum processes. This panel therefore aims at proposing and applying alternative perspectives to the study of referendums. Drawing on recent developments in democratic theory, such as the systemic turn in deliberative theory (Dryzek 2016; Parkinson and Mansbridge 2012; Owen and Smith 2015), the constructivist theories of representation (Disch 2011; Saward 2010; Montanaro 2012; Kuyper 2016), and a renewed commitment to the study of institutions and practices (Warren 2017), this panel explores the analytic value of studying referendums in context. It creates an opportunity for dialogue between political theorists and political scientists, who have similarly lamented the dominant approach to the study of referendums (Hug 2009; Dyck 2016), and brings them together to uncover new ways of thinking about the value of these democratic innovations, their interactions with other parts of democratic systems, the practices of representation that they induce, and their institutional design.

Paper List

Title Details
Choosing the Right Policy: A Comparison of National Level Referendums in Europe View Paper Details
Classifying Instruments of Direct and Participatory Democracy: A Functionalist Approach View Paper Details
Democratic Innovations and Ballot Measures View Paper Details
The Role of Citizens in Referendum Processes View Paper Details
Towards a Non-Populist Theory of Direct Democracy View Paper Details
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