Should Referendums Be Abolished?

Perspective Writers' Votes
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Democracies should not use referendums for policy decisions.

  • Referendums can lead to a tyranny of the majority.

  • Referendums are inefficient and time-intensive.

  • Complex and potentially irreversible decisions are oversimplified by framing issues in the binary and asking voters to choose just one or the other.

  • Referendums create enormous costs for a variety of actors.

  • Referendums create or deepen political divisions within a society.

  • The average citizen, unlike a professional politician, is not able to make well-grounded decisions about complex political subject matters.

  • Referendums give more political influence to the media, actors who lack the legitimacy of elected representatives.

  • Decisions taken via referendums tend to be perceived as more legitimate and find more acceptance in the population than decisions derived in other ways.

  • Referendums strengthen the voters' position and therefore the foundation of democratic systems.

  • Referendums provide a way to settle contentious issues when elected officials are unable to make a decision.

  • Referanda enable a people to challenge the power structure in their country. In a lot of countries all main-stream political parties share some interests. Referenda enable the voters to challenge these interests.

  • Referendums create a more substantive political discussion, by putting policy positions front and centre. Skills, charisma and personality of individual politicians become less important.

  • The people, as the sovereign, must have the right to directly influence political decisions.

  • Referendums encourage more popular political engagement.

  • Referendums are an effective measure to reduce the influence of private interests and lobbying.