Referendums Essay

655 words - 3 pages

Firstly, referendums have been held to prevent the internal collapse of political parties. This refers to situations in which a political party is divided over a political issue, and the lack of consensus jeopardises the stability of the party. Failure to reach a consensus may cause revolts amongst back-bencher's, rendering party whips redundant. This can seriously danger the electoral prospects of the party, as publicly divided parties causes the electorate to lose confidence. Referendums therefore provide a democratic form of dispute resolution. A good example of this being exercised in practice is the 1975 referendum over the UK's membership to the European Union. This prevented the ...view middle of the document...

In particular, party memberships and voting numbers have declined rapidly. Thus referendums are seen as a remedy for this problem. Academics have suggested that the reason for public disengagement is that the electorate lacks a sense of power or influence. Referendums give the electorate both power and influence: “at a time when public trust in this system is probably lower than ever in living memory referendums could help restore faith in British democracy" (Peter Browning, political academic). A good example of referendums being used in this way is the 2011 Voting referendum. Representative democracy, as a form of democracy, has become increasingly outdated and unacceptable with the general public, and direct methods are seen as essential to avoid complete public disenchantment: "people are no longer prepared to accept a democracy where they vote once every four or five years and then leave everything to their political leaders” (Professor Bogdanor, Professor of Government, Brasenose College, University of Oxford).

Although not a direct reason for the use of referendums, an...

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