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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Direct Democracy: Opinion Formation, Participation, and Effects on Citizens and Societal Outcomes

Referendums and Initiatives
Panel Number
Panel Chair
Micha Germann
University of Bath
Panel Co-Chair
Matt Qvortrup
University of Coventry
Panel Discussant
Micha Germann
University of Bath

24/08/2018 11:00 - 12:40
Building: VMP 8 Floor: 1 Room: 106
A growing number of countries practice referendums and other forms of direct citizen participation at the local, regional, and national levels. Nevertheless, direct democracy remains controversial. Proponents contend that direct democracy benefits society by increasing democratic legitimacy and vertical accountability, but also by acting as a `school of democracy'. Meanwhile, skeptics argue that direct democracy leads to bad political decisions, demagoguery, majoritarian tyranny, and voter apathy. In recent years, an increasingly methodologically sophisticated literature has started to evaluate the implications of direct democracy empirically. Still, many questions remain unresolved. This panel welcomes empirical contributions with a focus on referendums and direct democracy, addressing questions such as: How are opinions formed in the context of referendum campaigns? Who participates in referendums? What are direct democracy's effects on citizens (e.g. does participation breed participation?) and societal outcomes (e.g. minority rights or public goods contributions)? As much of the extant literature is focused on the Swiss and US experiences, the panel especially welcomes work looking at other, less researched contexts, as well as cross-national studies.

Paper List

Title Details
All Good Things Go Together? The Policy Effects of Direct Democracy View Paper Details
In the Name of the People/ In the People’s Will. Lessons from National and Local Referendums in Bulgaria 2013-2016 View Paper Details
Opinion Formation Among Equals? Promise and Reality of Assembly Democracy in Switzerland View Paper Details
Principles or Pragmatism? Morality Politics in Direct Democracy View Paper Details
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