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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines the history of the use of the referendum and outlines why politicians have resorted to using referendums. While referendums may be justified on the grounds that they provide legitimacy to controversial decisions, the empirical and statistical evidence suggests that referendums are generally held due to political expediency. Looking at the practical conduct of referendums, this chapter suggests that those in office tend to lose them if they have been in government positions for a long time. Finally, the chapter suggests that provisions for referendums are correlated with economic growth, as well as a higher Human Development Index.

Keywords: referendums, plebiscites, direct democracy, constitutional change, legitimacy, governance

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