Elite Control and the Referendum Process

Stephen Tierney

in Constitutional Referendums

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199592791
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741067 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Constitutional Theory

Elite Control and the Referendum Process

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This chapter begins to assess in detail the main criticisms of the referendum set out in Chapter 2. The first issue is control. A common trope in contemporary democratic theory is that referendums are fundamentally undemocratic because they are controlled by and open to the manipulation of elites. The chapter explores this question further, arguing that the issue of control must be broadened from the political context to examine the broader interplay of constitutional competence and political capacity throughout the referendum process, looking at the referendum as a series of stages, and addressing how the complicated motives of political actors all impact upon the control issue.

Keywords: control; referendums; democratic theory; constitutional competence; political capacity

Chapter.  15734 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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