Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Problems with Citizen Initiated Referenda

When younger, I was a strong supporter of citizen initiated referenda. I saw it as a control on the state, and as a way of getting a minority position heard. That time is long past.

I stand to be corrected by US readers, but I have the strong impression that this approach has been a disaster in places like California. Now we have the very strange decision in Switzerland on minarets.

The problem with citizen initiated referenda is that it makes it very easy for individual groups to block things or, conversely, to push minority positions through. In a representative democracy, Parliament is the final arbiter. This makes it easier for Governments to do things that might be unpopular with some, with the subsequent elections the final arbiter.

What do you think?   

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