Essay on The Meaning of Referendum

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The Meaning of Referendum A referendum means that the electorate votes on a specific political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision. In a representative democracy, citizens usually govern indirectly by choosing representatives in elections who, for a limited period, take decisions on their behalf on how the country is run. Referendums on the other hand are a form of direct democracy and are sometimes used as a complement to the representative system. There are many kinds of referendum and they may be used in different ways, occurring at both central and local government levels. An essential difference between different types of referendum is how they are initiated…show more content…
In other words, there are several different combinations of referendums. They may either be top-down or bottom-up initiatives, be consultative or binding and, in addition, be organised both nationally and locally. Advantages and disadvantages of referendums ------------------------------------------- One of the arguments put forward against referendums is that they tend to simplify complicated problems and reduce them to yes or no answers. Difficulties in formulating the questions and interpreting the outcome are also mentioned. Furthermore, in certain cases they may lead to low turnout and lack of interest, for example when referendums are held often and concern highly technical matters. In these cases, a legitimacy problem arises. It has also been claimed that, by using referendums, decision-making on important issues is left to those with the least political knowledge and experience who are highly likely to be influenced by sudden swings in opinion. An additional problem is that referendums may undermine representative democracy. Furthermore, they give an inadequate picture of the will of the people and offer politicians an opportunity to avoid taking a position on sensitive issues. On the other
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