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.