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Title: The uses and abuses of referendums
Author: Trueblood, Leah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 6244
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Referendums, especially referendums with constitutional content, are often treated as exceptional acts. They are treated as exceptional in a democratic sense, because they are thought to go beyond the usual democratic processes and institutions. Since referendums are thought to be exceptional in a democratic sense they are treated as exceptional in a constitutional sense too. The political and legal significance attributed to votes in referendums far surpasses that of elections, protests, or votes in legislatures. The aim of this thesis is to challenge this approach to referendums. I will argue that referendums, even referendums with constitutional content, are democratic processes like any other. This thesis interrogates the treatment of referendums in theory and practice. It challenges the ideas that inform the view of referendums as exceptional democratic processes. This is not an argument against the use of referendums. Far from it. Instead, it is an argument for the normalization of referendums. To argue for the normalization of referendums is to say that referendums are not higher-order decision-making processes that operate on a distinct democratic plane. Referendums are just one of many ways that direction is given to representatives in a democracy. Certain features of referendums distinguish them from other democratic processes. In particular, they give more specific direction to representatives than elections do. There are features of referendums that are significant and distinctive, but nothing places them above -or apart from- other democratic processes.
Supervisor: Green, Leslie Sponsor: Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available