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Governmental authorities initiating a referendum vote generally seek legitimation for policies on the government agenda, will regularly advocate an affirmative vote, and will have many ways of influencing process and outcome, including official communication resources.Therefore, the term Mandatory referenda also very often originate from governmental authorities entitled to bring forward proposals for which ratification by a referendum vote is required, particularly in the case of constitutional amendments or matters of state sovereignty, territory, or identity.
Citizens’ initiatives that are supported by a required number of signatures allow the electorate to vote on political measures proposed by a group, on bills approved by a legislature but not yet in force, or on existing laws (citizen-demanded referenda).
A popular vote may be binding according to the simple or specific majority or turnout requirements for a valid vote or may be defined as only consultative or advisory.
Constitutions, civil rights, and universal suffrage, which had been achieved in European and many other countries (generally by the end of World War I), were usually identified with “democracy” on the normative basis of the principles of popular sovereignty, freedom, and political equality.
Thus, in many countries and theories, these principles have been tied to and absorbed by a narrow notion of representative democracy rather than being used to support a more comprehensive concept of democracy.
referenda of governmental authorities take place when a president, cabinet, or legislature decides, under preregulated conditions or ad hoc, to call a popular vote on a particular issue.
Sometimes, a minority of a legislature also is entitled to demand such a vote.
With this background of historical and theoretical restrictions, the normative theory of direct democracy cannot exclusively rest on popular sovereignty, which is also claimed by representative democracy.
More specific arguments originate from the participatory theory of democracy and the critique of a lack of responsiveness and legitimacy of representative (party) democracy.
One must also keep in mind that direct-democratic processes cannot operate in isolation but are always linked to the structures of an overall political system that includes major representative institutions.
Thus, interactions between the two types of institutions will be an important challenge for analysis.