Some thoughts about referendums, representative democracy, and separation of powers
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Referendums have experienced some sort of a comeback. Citizen involvement in political decisions is seen increasingly as a healthy add-on in democratic polities. While earlier writers on democratic theory often saw a danger in increased participation of citizens, more recently several authors suggest that this participation should be fostered. I argue in this paper that both sides in the debate neglect important aspects of referendums. Discussing whether direct participation by the citizens is a good or bad thing addresses only half the story. More precisely, we have to get a better idea about how referendums interact with the traditional institutions of representative democracy.