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The Limits and Legitimacy of Referendums

Edited by: Richard Albert, Richard Stacey

ISBN13: 9780198867647
Published: May 2022
Publisher: Oxford University Press USA
Country of Publication: USA
Format: Hardback
Price: £80.00

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The possibility of democracy-enhancing uses and anti-democratic abuses of referendums reveals a paradox: mechanisms of democracy can be exploited to do violence to the basic principles of democracy. The Limits and Legitimacy of Referendums seeks to identify standards we might use to assess the democratic legitimacy of a referendum when we cannot rely on the norms of traditional liberal democracy.

This innovative book explores how referendums manage the tension between liberalism and democracy, and whether this device holds promise for reconciling these two commitments. A range of scholars from around the world expose how referendums may be abused on one hand to achieve short-term political or even personal gains, and how, on the other, they may aspire to reflect the best traditions of deliberative, innovative, democracy-enhancing popular decision-making.

Structured around three big questions, this book seeks to identify what makes a referendum legitimate. First, why have referendums on issues of fundamental political importance become so frequent around the world? Second, who are - or who should be - the people that make decisions about a political community's future? And third, are referendums an effective and reliable mechanism of popular sovereignty or democratic choice?

These essays - written for scholars, public lawyers, political actors and citizens - bring together diverse perspectives on referendums, constitutionalism, liberalism and democracy in ways that challenge the conventional wisdom, prompt new answers to enduring questions, and urge reconsideration of how we evaluate the legitimacy of referendums.

Constitutional and Administrative Law
Part I: Why Referendums?
1:The Strange Case of the Package Deal: Amendments and Replacements in Constitutional Reform, Zachary Elkins and Alexander Hudson
2:Discretionary Referendums in Constitutional Amendment, Richard Albert
3:The Unnecessary Referendum: Popular Sovereignty in the Constitutional Interregnum, Richard Stacey
Part II: Who Are the People?
4:Referendums in Federal States: Territorial Pluralism and the Challenge of Direct Democracy, Stephen Tierney
5:Referendum and Self-Determination in Catalonia, Antoni Abat i Ninet
6:Referendums and Autocratization: Explaining Referendum in the Post-Soviet Space, Anna Fruhstorfer
Part III: Are the People Sovereign?
7:Brexit and Two Roles for Referendums in the United Kingdom, Leah Trueblood
8:Deciding on the Future: First Nations Ratification Processes, Crown Policies, and the Making of Modern Treaties, Janna Promislow
9:Plebiscites and Peace: Comparative Lessons from the 2016 Colombian Plebiscite for Peace, Carlos Bernal
10:Are the People the Masters? Constitutional Referendums in Ireland, Aileen Kavanagh and David Kenny