chapter  1
Implementing popular preferences: is direct democracy the answer?
ByIAN BUDGE
Pages 16

Introduction It is perhaps paradoxical, in discussing democratic innovations, to consider procedures that were most fully realized 2,500 years ago. Direct voting on all questions of public policy by all citizens was, in fact, the form in which democracy first emerged in the fifth century BC among the Greeks – particularly exemplified by the way it was practised in the city-state of Athens. So far as the Greeks and the rest of the Ancient World were concerned, this was democracy. Other regimes that limited popular policy control were aristocracies, oligarchies or tyrannies. Despite its antiquity, however, the idea that citizens should debate and decide policy directly is still fiercely controversial. Any extension of popular powers in this direction is among the most radical of the changes considered in this book.