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Constitutional ReferendumsThe Theory and Practice of Republican Deliberation$
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Stephen Tierney

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199592791

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199592791.001.0001

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Beyond Representation: Constitutional Referendums and Deliberative Democracy

Beyond Representation: Constitutional Referendums and Deliberative Democracy

(p.19) 2 Beyond Representation: Constitutional Referendums and Deliberative Democracy
Constitutional Referendums

Stephen Tierney

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers how the referendum has been appraised within contemporary theories of democracy, setting out the key debates, and establishing points of further enquiry that will enable a fuller answer to be offered in the latter chapters of the book. Section II addresses three main concerns raised by critics of referendums: how they are controlled; how popular participation is engaged within a referendum process; and the conditions under which decisions are reached by way of direct democracy. These issues also highlight how attitudes towards direct democracy can vary from one democratic tradition to another. Section III explores the tradition of ‘civic republican democracy’, setting out its key aims and values. The chapter argues that this is a useful turn in constitutional theory both for offering a powerful democratic critique of how contemporary representative democracy has been overpowered by hegemonic interests and in highlighting the importance of popular engagement in processes of constitutional change as a partial remedy for this malaise.

Keywords:   referendum, direct democracy, civic republican democracy, constitutional theory

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