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The Utilization Of Government-Initiated Referendums in Latin America. Towards a Theory of Referendum Causes

El uso de los referendos de iniciativa gubernamental en AmГ©rica Latina. Hacia una teorГ­a las that are sobre del uso de votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno


Department of Comparative Politics, University of Cologne

In the last two years there is a substantial upsurge in the amount of referendums worldwide. The existing literary works on direct democracy has thus far neglected to explain this occurrence by delivering a frequent concept in the factors that cause referendums. This explorative research aims at undertaking actions toward shutting this gap by concentrating on the particular kind of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) and their use within presidential systems. Utilizing QC A (a technique that is case-sensitive from the formal logic of Boolean algebra), this research methodically compares the governmental possibility structures of 49 presidential systems from 12 Latin US nations to identify the factors that spurred or obstructed the incident of FGIR. It concludes that FGIR are closely associated with high quantities of celebration system fragmentation and split federal government, in other words. two facets that have always been considered problematic within the context of presidential systems, while their obstruction is especially owed to your certain constitutional conditions managing the referendum unit.

Keyword Phrases: Referendums, Latin America, Fragmentation, Direct Democracy.


En las Гєltimas dos dГ©cadas Ma existido alrededor del mundo un considerable aumento en el nГєmero de votaciones populares. Por el contrario, la literatura existente sobre democracia directa no na sabido explicar el fenГіmeno mediante una teorГ­a consistente de las causas de los referendums. Este estudio exploratorio busca dar un paso adelante para cerrar esta brecha, enfocГЎndose en los referendum facultativos iniciados por poderes polГ­ticos formales (facultative government-initiated referendums – FGIR) y su uso en los sistemas presidenciales. Utilizando OCA (tГ©cnica basada en lГіgica formal de ГЎlgebra booleanas), este estudio hace una comparaciГіn sistemГЎtica de la estructura de oportunidades polГ­ticas de 49 sistemas presidenciales de 12 paГ­ses de AmГ©rica Latina, para detectar los factores que estimulan u obstruyen la ocurrencia de FGIR. Se concluye que los FGIR estГЎn fuertemente ligados a altos niveles de fragmentaciГіn partidaria y gobiernos divididos, 2 factores que han sido problemГЎticos en los contextos de sistemas presidenciales. Por su parte, la obstrucciГіn se tiene que principalmente a provisiones constitucionales especГ­ficas que regulan los dispositivos de las votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno.

Palabras Clave: Plebiscito, AmГ©rica Latina, fragmentaciГіn, democracia directa.


The practical application of direct democratic instruments has increased considerably (LeDuc, 2003). 2 This trend has attracted scholarly attention and over recent years, considerable research investigating direct democracy has been published in renowned journals in the field of political science from the 1960s onwards, various nations of the world embraced the idea of direct democracy and over the past two decades. Up to now this literature has primarily dedicated to the 2 nations that many often utilize referendums, Switzerland as well as the united states of america in the state degree (Ladner and Brandle, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Papadopulos, 2001; Tolbert and Hero, 1996; Vatter and Freitag, 2006), while an inferior amount of magazines have dedicated to the revolution of referendums entailed in the act of European integration (Hug and Sciarini, 2000; Franklin et ah, 1995). These magazines have significantly contributed to your knowledge about the impact of referendums on politics as well as on diverse societal aspects. Nonetheless, they will have maybe not yet produced a theory that is consistent the factors that cause referendums. The goal of this paper is always to undertake steps that are initial bridging this space.

Up To an extent that is large the ‘boom’ in direct democracy could be credited toward the increased quantity of citizen-initiated referendums and, to a smaller degree, mandatory referendums (Morel, 2001) This development happens to be welcomed by advocates of direct democracy whom stress the possibility of the tools to foster bottom-up participation and straight accountability (Barber, 1984; Schmitter, 2000). However, on a few occasions, non-mandatory referendums on important governmental concerns have now been initiated by governing bodies in other words. legislatures or executives. Such government-initiated referendums, which can be known as plebiscites, 3 a phrase that holds a small connotation that is negative largely retain control of political decision-making in the hands of elected officials.

The occurrence of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) 4 poses a theoretical puzzle (Rahat, 2007) despite contributing little to the overall increase in direct democracy.

Even though it is understandable that citizens will take part in processes of decision-making when because of the straight to do this, governmental elites’ utilization of direct democratic instruments is harder to grasp. What motivates authorities that are governing initiate referendums? Why should democratically legitimised representatives voluntarily give their monopoly up to legislate, redistribute energy downwards, equal themselves with ordinary citizens in governmental decision-making, and eventually expose on their own into the danger of losing in the ballot package? The main purpose of this study that is explorative to produce possible answers to those concerns.

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