Kialo requires cookies to work correctly.
Should Referendums Be Abolished?
Referendums create or deepen political divisions within a society.
Referendums shift the burden of partisanship from politicians to members of the public.
Referendums provide an additional stage on which class and social divisions can be emphasized. New awareness of these divisions can then be used to differentiate between "us" and "them" or to assign blame for political outcomes.
The all-or-nothing nature of referendums incentivises campaigns to present the issue as a zero-sum game, where winning or losing are the only two possibilities and where compromise is not an option.
Referendums provide a way of
overcoming political and partisan divides
by letting people decide based on issues rather than party allegiance.
Referendums don't create the divisions, they at most highlight the divisions that already exist. And knowing the truth of things is almost always good.
Referendums help settle the divides of the public in a way that is final. The public agrees to hold the referendum and respect its result, making the decision acceptable even by opponents.
But they also open up debate. The Scottish independence referendum, for example, got people in the country discussing politics in a way they never had before
A bargain or decision made by the elites without public consultation or endorsement only strengthens the division between the political elite and parts of the citizens.