Democratic Savety Valves: The Therapeutic Effects of Antipolitical Referenda

Resnick, Philip (October 1994) Democratic Savety Valves: The Therapeutic Effects of Antipolitical Referenda. Former Series > Working Paper Series > IHS Political Science Series 16


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Abstract: There has been a recent wave of referenda votes aimed against the governing political class in various western societies. I think it is necessary to go beyond the nostrums of the 1960s or 1970s in explaining these developments. The anti-system character of recent referendum voting and new party formation defies earlier perspectives and hopes. They are far from being driven by the political, economic, and social radicalism of the 1960s. Anti-government, anti-tax, anti-welfare state, and anti-redistributionist sentiments were very much to the fore. The referenda may reflect less the desire for active political participation, in the way that some in the 1960s may have dreamed, than a negative lashing out, a refusal of certain verities or proposals coming from on high, without a clearly worked out alternative vision of politics. But if a significant segment of the population of a liberal democracy feels disempowered and even disenfranchised vis-a-vis the existing political structures; if it questions the legitimacy of the actions of those who rule in its name - is it not better that it have an outlet to express its frustrations through a device such as the referendum?;

Item Type: IHS Series
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 10:36
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2019 16:17

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