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The Usage 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 an increase that is considerable the sheer number of referendums global. The literature that is existing direct democracy has thus far did not explain this occurrence by delivering a regular concept regarding the reasons for referendums. This explorative research aims at undertaking steps toward shutting this gap by concentrating on the particular sort 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 connected to high quantities of celebration system fragmentation and split government, in other words. two facets which may have for ages been considered problematic within the context of presidential systems, while their obstruction is principally owed into the certain provisions that are constitutional 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. No na sabido explicar el fenГіmeno mediante una teorГ­a consistente de las causas de los referendums sin embargo, la literatura existente sobre democracia directa. 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. To date this literary works has primarily dedicated to the 2 countries that many usually utilize referendums, Switzerland in addition to united states of america in the continuing state degree (Ladner and Brandle, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Papadopulos, 2001; Tolbert and Hero, 1996; Vatter and Freitag, 2006), while a smaller sized wide range 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 publications have actually significantly added to the knowledge in connection with effect of referendums on politics as well as on diverse societal aspects. But, they usually have maybe not yet produced a constant concept on the factors behind referendums. The aim of this paper would be to undertake initial steps towards bridging this gap.

To a large degree, the ‘boom’ in direct democracy could be credited toward the increased quantity of citizen-initiated referendums and, to a smaller level, mandatory referendums (Morel, 2001) This development is welcomed by advocates of direct democracy whom stress the possibility of those tools to foster bottom-up involvement and straight accountability (Barber, 1984; Schmitter, 2000). However, on several occasions, non-mandatory referendums on essential governmental questions are initiated by governing bodies for example. legislatures or professionals. Such government-initiated referendums, which are generally known as plebiscites, 3 a phrase that holds a small negative connotation, mostly retain control of governmental decision-making in the possession of of elected officials.

Despite adding small to the entire escalation in direct democracy, the incident of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) 4 poses a theoretical puzzle (Rahat, 2007).

Even though it is understandable that residents will take part in processes of decision-making when provided the directly to do this, governmental elites’ usage of direct democratic instruments is harder to understand. exactly What motivates authorities that are governing initiate referendums? Why should democratically legitimised representatives voluntarily offer their monopoly up to legislate, redistribute energy downwards, equal themselves with ordinary citizens in governmental decision-making, and finally expose on their own to your danger of losing in the ballot package? The main purpose of this explorative research is to present prospective responses to those concerns.

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