8 November 2011
Danger of Ad-hoc Referendums
The problem with ad-hoc referendums is that they are being abused by both parties involved: The proponents (usually the party in power) wants to get additional legitimacy for a decision it has already taken (or wants to wash its hands of a difficult decision). The voters may use the opportunity to cast a vote on the government of the day and not really address the issue at stake. As the only way a referendum can exist in most 'democracies' is by government decree there is a permanent question mark about the whole exercise. These deficiencies are often used by opponents of direct democracy to paint the instrument of referendum in an unattractive light.