This volume analyses how the use of referendums affects the central functions and characteristics of representative democracy. It provides a balanced account of the interaction between referendums and representative institutions and actors, seeking to evaluate whether referendums supplement or undermine representative democracy. Considering both normative and empirical questions, the volume also examines the particular circumstances under which referendums strengthen or weaken representative democracy.

Providing a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used in the study of referendums, this book is divided into three sections: Referendums and the Models of Democracy, The Demand of Referendums: Party Ideologies and Strategies, and Referendum Campaigns and Voter Behaviour. It features case studies on Ireland, Israel, Canada, California, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the Nordic Countries, the Netherlands, Spain and the EU Constitutional Treaty. In addition to system-level evaluations of referendums, studies on the ideological attitudes of political actors and strategic use of referendums, the volume also provides analyses of referendum campaigns and voters’ choices in referendums. Covering referendums on European integration, the volume also demonstrates how supra-national governance gives rise to the demand of referendums.

This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of political science, political theory, comparative politics, and European studies.

chapter 1|14 pages


part I|60 pages

Referendums and models of democracy

chapter 2|17 pages

From people's veto to instrument of elite consensus

The referendum experience in Ireland

chapter 3|22 pages

Stabilizing or destabilizing?

Direct-democratic instruments in different political systems

part II|61 pages

The demand for referendums

chapter 5|21 pages

To structure political conflict

The institutionalization of referendums on European integration in the Nordic countries

chapter 6|19 pages

Elite motives for initiating referendums

Avoidance, addition and contradiction

part III|83 pages

Referendum campaigns and voter behaviour

chapter 8|23 pages

Campaign tactics and outcomes in referendums

A comparative analysis

chapter 9|24 pages

Intense but useless?

Public debate and voting factors in two referendums in Spain

chapter 11|13 pages