Do referendums enhance or threaten democracy?
Essay from the year 2003 in the subject Politics - International Politics - Topic: European Union, grade: B, University of Bath (European Studies and Modern Languages), 21 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: In some countries, the Euro has been established without consulting the citizens. Discussions on whether this has been a fair and fully legal step made by elected representatives in a democracy or whether people should have been asked before passing such a major reform are ongoing. The convent has come up with a first proposal for a European Constitution. While several countries are preparing their referendums on it, Germany's chancellor Gerhard Schröder simply stated, he is against a referendum - no reasons given. Switzerland uses referendums as a regular instrument to let people decide about single political issues. Countries as Sweden and Denmark use them at least once in a while. Others, such as Germany, have never had a referendum in their history. Although these differences between nation states are obvious, there has been a revival of the idea of referendums as an instrument of direct democracy in the last decades. In some states used, in others only discussed, referendums are a topic again. This essay analyses the question whether referendums enhance or threaten democracy by taking a closer look at the pro and contra arguments used in the literature, essays and newspaper articles through which sociologists fight their battle about the subject. After pointing out some of the reasons for the current rise of referendums in general (2), chapter 3 will deal with the chances (3.1) and dangers (3.2) of referendums. This analysis will lead to a conclusion and judgement of referendums (4). In chapter 5, a short outlook will be given on the function of referendums in the ever closer European Union.
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