Referendums and the evolution of party government in liberal democracies
An analysis of the motivations behind the present revival of referendum ballots in liberal democracies shows that referendums launched by governments, often politically motivated, and those launched by popular initiatives are linked to a demand for new legislation, and both illustrate the crisis of representative governments that is currently affecting these democracies. The pursuit of the increase of referendums will depend however on whether popular initiatives will or will not be introduced in the Constitutions of countries, since the great majority do not provide for it. In spite of similarities between the present political situation in Western Europe and the contexts in which popular initiatives were introduced in some countries, there is no serious ground to predict that such institutional reforms will take place in the near future. The directness of democracy is maybe more likely to increase under the effect not of referendums, but of other factors like the growing interference of polls, or the decline of intermediaries, especially parties, in the daily practice of government.
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