Majority rule, compromise and the democratic legitimacy of referendums
Title: Majority rule, compromise and the democratic legitimacy of referendums
Author: BELLAMY, Richard (Richard Paul)
Citation: Swiss political science review, 2018, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp. 312-319
ISSN: 1662-6370; 1420-3529
Cheneval and el-Wakil (2018c) defend referendums as a mechanism that allows a popular majority to express itself in situations where the standard channels of representative democracy fail to include the concerns of certain citizens and end up reflecting the views of a minority. By contrast, this comment argues that the likelihood of exclusion and settlement on a minority preference is much greater when policy choices are made by referendum. The reason lies in the plurality of policy options on many issues, and the fact that the most favoured policy may be a shared second or third best. The tendency for most forms of representative democracy to encourage politicians to build majorities through compromises among different coalitions of minorities is more likely to settle on the majority preference of diverse actors holding a plurality views than a referendum based on a binary choice.
First published: 21 September 2018
Type of Access: openAccess
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