The Routledge Handbook to Referendums and Direct Democracy  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook to Referendums and Direct Democracy

ISBN 9780367462017
Published February 25, 2020 by Routledge
552 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Over the last 30 years referendums have played an increasingly important role in determining government policy. Recent high profile referendums in Scotland, Catalonia and Ukraine have continued the movement towards independence referendums following decolonization and the end of the Cold War. The Greek bailout referendum and Britain’s vote on membership of the EU reflect a tradition of European states giving their people a direct say in the transfer of sovereign powers to the European Union seen through the ratification of key treaties such as Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon. This Routledge Handbook covers key aspects and issues of direct democracy and referendums throughout the world including:

•their history;

•when, why, where, how and on which issues referendums are held;

•why some referendums are more democratic than others;

•how referendums are won;

•whether they produce good policies;

•if referendums increase participation and improve the quality of representative democracies;

•do referendums increase trust in democracy and the political actors;

•the impact of new technology on the possibilities, methods and frequency of direct public political participation;

•how they should be regulated.

Covering other related areas such as recall, citizen juries and random selection, this compendium is an indispensable guide to referendums and the workings of modern democracy.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Vernon Bogdanor


Laurence Morel and Matt Qvortrup

Part I. The History and Variety of Referendums

1. The History of Referendums and Direct Democracy

Matt Qvortrup

2. Types of Referendums, Provisions and Practice at National Level Worldwide

Laurence Morel

3. Local Referendums: A Comparative Assessment of Forms and Practice

Theo Schiller

4. Methodological Issues: Popper, Paradigms and Historical Perspectives on Referendum Research.

A Case of Pluralism

Matt Qvortrup

Part II. The Politics of Referendums: Causes and Regime Context

5. Views on Referendums: Is there a Pattern?

Palle Svensson

6. Why Referendums? On Appearances and Absences

Dag Anckar

7. Referendums and Consensus Democracy: Empirical Findings from 21 EU Countries

Stefan Vospernik

Part III. The Democratic Quality of Referendums: Criteria, Practices, Regulations

8. The Democratic Criticism of Referendums: The Majority and True Will of the People

Laurence Morel

9. The Democratic Potential of Referendums: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Limitations

Patrick Taillon

10. Democratic Credentials and Deficits of Referendums: A Case Study of the Scottish Independence Vote

Stephan Tierney

11. People Concerned and People Entitled to Vote: The Example of Sovereignty Referendums

İlker Gökhan Şen

12. The Expression of Popular Will: Does the Wording of a Referendum Question Matter?

François Rocher and André Lecours

13. The Expression of Popular Will: Do Campaigns Matter and How Do Voters Decide?

Ece Ozlem Atikcan

  1. The Strength of Popular Will: Legal Impact, Implementation and Duration

Dane Waters

15. Existing Regulations and Recommended Best Practices: The Example of the USA

Henry S. Noyes

Part IV. Voting at Referendums

16. Voting Behaviour in Direct Democracy Votes

Pascal Sciarini

  1. Picking Winners. Forecasting the Results of EU Referendums 1972-2016
  2. Matt Qvortrup

  3. The Formation of Opinions at Referendums: The Application of the Screening Theory Model

Guy Lachapelle

19. Are Referendums a Machinery to Turn Out our Prejudices into Rational Choices ? An Unfortunate Answer of Sociophysics

Serge Galam

  1. How Elections Shape Campaigning Effects in Direct Democracy

Simon Lanz and Alessandro Nai

Part V. Policy and Political Effects of Referendums

21. Referendums, Minorities and Individual Freedoms

Marthe Fatin-Rouge Stefanini

22. Referendums on European Integration: Crisis-Solving or Crisis-Inducing?

Fernando Mendez and Mario Mendez

23. Do Referendums Make Better Citizens? TTThe Effects of Direct Democracy on Political Interest, Civic Competence and Participation

Julien Talpin

24. Brinkmanship and Backsliding: How Governments Deal with Referendum Decisions

Gerald Schneider

25. Effects of Referendums on Party Cohesion and Cleavages: Empirical Findings from 21 EU Countries

Stefan Vospernik

Part VI. Related Direct Democratic Institutions: An Overview

26. Recall Referendum Around the World: Origins, Institutional Designs and Current Debates

Yanina Welp

27. Deliberative Mini-Publics in Democratic Systems

Maija Setälä

28. Nothing Fails Like Success: Teledemocracy and Deliberative Polling

Ted Becker

29. Sortition, Direct Democracy and Indirect Democracy

Gil Delannoi and Oliver Dowlen


Appendix 1.Types of Nationwide Referendums Provided for in the 195 Countries of the World (2016) Laurence Morel

Appendix 2. Practice of Nationwide Referendums in the 195 countries of the World (1940-2016)

Laurence Morel

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Laurence Morel is Professor of Political Science at the University of Lille, France and affiliated to the Centre de Recherches Politiques de Sciences Po Paris (CEVIPOF), Francec.

Matt Qvortrup is Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Coventry University, UK.


"Referendums can dramatically validate controversial political projects (such as Brexit). But the record is very patchy and uneven, and solidly constructed democratic referendums are rare. This thorough and up to date Handbook provides indispensable guidance both to the potential benefits and to the many pitfalls". - Laurence Whitehead, Nuffield College, Oxford University.

"This volume brings together in one place the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask about referendums in many forms and places. A must have for serious researchers and their libraries." - Professor Richard Rose FBA, Director, Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University. of Strathclyde