Rowman and Littlefield International

Let the People Rule

Direct Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Saskia Ruth-Lovell, Yanina Welp, and Laurence Whitehead

The biggest contemporary challenge to democratic legitimacy gravitates around the crisis of democratic representation.

Hardback ISBN: 9781785522574 Release date: Dec 2016
£65.00 €90.00 $105.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781785522666 Release date: Aug 2019
£30.00 €41.00 $46.00

Pages: 254

The biggest contemporary challenge to democratic legitimacy gravitates around the crisis of democratic representation. To tackle this problem, a growing number of established and new democracies included direct democratic instruments in their constitutions, enabling citizens to have direct influence on democratic decision-making. However, there are many different empirical manifestations of direct democracy, and their diverse consequences for representative democracy remain an understudied topic. Let the People Rule? aims to fill this gap, analysing the multifaceted consequences of direct democracy on constitutional reforms and issues of independence, democratic accountability mechanisms, and political outcomes. Chapters apply different methodological approaches to study the consequences of direct democracy on democratic legitimacy. These range from single in-depth case studies, like the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, to cross-national comparative studies, such as the direct democratic experience within the European Union.


List of Figures and Tables vii

Abbreviations ix

Contributors xi

Acknowledgements xv

Preface xvii

Leonardo Morlino

Chapter One – Direct Democracy in the Twenty-First Century 1

Saskia P. Ruth, Yanina Welp and Laurence Whitehead

Chapter Two – Between the ‘Fiction’ of Representation and the ‘Faction’ of

Direct Democracy 7

Laurence Whitehead

Chapter Three – Constitution Making in Democratic Constitutional Orders:

The Challenge of Citizen Participation 21

Gabriel L. Negretto

Chapter Four – A Problem or a Solution? The Referendum as a Mechanism

for Citizens’ Participation in Constitution Making 41

Jonathan Wheatley

Chapter Five – Plebiscites and Sovereignty: A Historical and Comparative

Study of Self-Determination and Secession Referendums 61

Matt Qvortrup

Chapter Six – The Scottish Independence Referendum: A Model of Good

Practice in Direct Democracy? 77

Stephen Tierney

Chapter Seven – The Motivations Behind the Use of Mechanisms of

Direct Democracy 99

Yanina Welp and Saskia P. Ruth

Chapter Eight – Recall, Political Representation and Citizen Participation:

Reflections Based on the Latin American Experience 121

Rocío Annunziata

Chapter Nine – The Levelling Up of a Political Institution: Perspectives on

the Recall Referendum 137

Uwe Serdült and Yanina Welp

Chapter Ten – Direct Democracy and its (Perceived) Consequences:

The German Case 155

Brigitte Geissel

Chapter Eleven – Direct Democracy in Switzerland: The Growing Tension

Between Domestic and Foreign Politics 169

Pascal Sciarini

Chapter Twelve – Direct Democracy and the European Union 187

Fernando Mendez and Mario Mendez

Chapter Thirteen – Let the People Rule? 207

Laurence Whitehead, Yanina Welp and Saskia P. Ruth

Afterword on Brexit Referendum, 23 June 2016 – The ‘People Ruled’

that the UK Should Quit the European Union 221

Laurence Whitehead

Index 227

Saskia Pauline Ruth is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Political Science at the NCCR Democracy at the University of Zurich and the Centre for Democracy Studies in Aarau, Switzerland. She holds a Diploma in Latin American Studies and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Cologne (Germany). Her research focusses on the quality of democracy, the crisis of representation in Latin America, and the phenomenon of clientelism and populism. Her article on ‘Clientelism and the Utility of the Left-Right Dimension in Latin America’ has recently been published in Latin American Politics and Society.

Yanina Welp is Regional Director for Latin America at the Centre for Research on Direct Democracy (Centre for Democracy Studies Aarau, University of Zurich). Her main areas of study are the mechanisms of direct and participatory democracy in Latin America and digital media and politics. She has published extensively on these topics in several academic journals and books. Her most recent contributions are Digital Technologies for Democratic Governance in Latin America (UK: Routledge, co-edited with Anita Breuer), Democracias en Movimiento (México: UNAM, co-edited with Daniel Zovatto and Alicia Lissidini) and La dosis hace el veneno. Análisis de la revocatoria de mandato en América Latina, Estados Unidos y Suiza (Quito: CNE, co-edited with Uwe Serdült).

Laurence Whitehead is a Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Nuffield College, Oxford University. He is editor of an Oxford University Press series, ‘Studies in Democratization’ and President of the Conseil Scientifique of the Institute des Ameriques, Paris, and belongs to the steering committee of the Red Eurolatinoamericana de Gobernabilidad para el Desarrollo. His lasts books are Illiberal Practices (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016, co-edited with Jacqueline Behrend), Democratización: Teoría y Experiencia (Fondo de Cultura Económica 2011) and Caleidoscopio de la Innovación democrática en América Latina (FLACSO, México, 2011, co-edited with Yanina Welp,). Among his recent articles are ‘The Westminster System: Model or Muddle?’ in the Taiwan Journal of Democracy, May 2013; and ‘Enlivening’ the concept of Democratisation: The Biological Metaphor’ in Perspectives on Politics, July 2011.

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