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The Application Of Government-Initiated Referendums in Latin America. Towards a Theory of Referendum Causes

El uso de los referendos de iniciativa gubernamental en AmГ©rica Latina. Hacia una teorГ­a las that are sobre del uso de votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno


Department of Comparative Politics, University of Cologne

Within the last two years there is a large escalation in the amount of referendums global. The literature that is existing direct democracy has thus far neglected to explain this event by delivering a regular concept regarding the factors behind referendums. This study that is explorative at undertaking actions toward shutting this space by concentrating on the precise sort of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) and their used in presidential systems. Utilizing QC A (a case-sensitive technique based regarding the formal logic of Boolean algebra), this study systematically compares the political opportunity structures of 49 presidential systems from 12 Latin US nations to identify the factors that spurred or obstructed the incident of FGIR. It concludes that FGIR are closely associated with high degrees of celebration system fragmentation and divided federal government, in other words. two facets that have for ages been considered problematic into the context of presidential systems, while their obstruction is primarily owed into the particular constitutional conditions managing the referendum unit.

Keyword Phrases: Referendums, Latin America, Fragmentation, Direct Democracy.


En las Гєltimas dos dГ©cadas Ma existido alrededor del mundo un considerable aumento en el nГєmero de votaciones populares. En cambio, la literatura existente sobre democracia directa no na sabido explicar el fenГіmeno mediante una teorГ­a consistente de las causas de los referendums. Este estudio exploratorio busca paso that is dar un para cerrar esta brecha, enfocГЎndose en los referendum facultativos iniciados por poderes polГ­ticos formales (facultative government-initiated referendums – FGIR) y su uso en los sistemas presidenciales. Utilizando OCA (tГ©cnica basada en lГіgica formal de ГЎlgebra booleanas), este estudio hace una comparaciГіn sistemГЎtica de la estructura de oportunidades polГ­ticas de 49 sistemas presidenciales de 12 paГ­ses de AmГ©rica Latina, para detectar los factores que estimulan u obstruyen la ocurrencia de FGIR. Se concluye que los FGIR estГЎn fuertemente ligados a altos niveles de fragmentaciГіn partidaria y gobiernos divididos, 2 factores que han sido problemГЎticos en los contextos de sistemas presidenciales. Por su parte, la se that is obstrucciГіn principalmente a provisiones constitucionales especГ­ficas que regulan los dispositivos de las votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno.

Palabras Clave: Plebiscito, AmГ©rica Latina, fragmentaciГіn, democracia directa.


The practical application of direct democratic instruments has increased considerably (LeDuc, 2003). 2 This trend has attracted scholarly attention and over recent years, considerable research investigating direct democracy has been published in renowned journals in the field of political science from Our Time mobile site the 1960s onwards, various nations of the world embraced the idea of direct democracy and over the past two decades. Thus far this literary works has primarily dedicated to the two nations that many usually use referendums, Switzerland and also the united states of america from the continuing state degree (Ladner and Brandle, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Papadopulos, 2001; Tolbert and Hero, 1996; Vatter and Freitag, 2006), while a smaller sized range magazines have actually dedicated to the wave of referendums entailed in the act of European integration (Hug and Sciarini, 2000; Franklin et ah, 1995). These magazines have actually significantly added to the knowledge in connection with effect of referendums on politics as well as on diverse societal aspects. Nevertheless, they usually have maybe not yet produced a consistent concept on the factors behind referendums. The goal of this paper is always to undertake initial steps towards bridging this space.

To an extent that is large the ‘boom’ in direct democracy may be credited toward the increased quantity of citizen-initiated referendums and, to an inferior degree, mandatory referendums (Morel, 2001) This development happens to be welcomed by advocates of direct democracy whom emphasize the possibility of those tools to foster bottom-up involvement and vertical accountability (Barber, 1984; Schmitter, 2000). However, on several occasions, non-mandatory referendums on crucial governmental concerns are initiated by regulating bodies i.e. legislatures or professionals. Such government-initiated referendums, which are generally known as plebiscites, 3 a phrase that holds a small negative connotation, largely retain control of governmental decision-making in the possession of of elected officials.

Despite contributing small to the entire rise in direct democracy, the event of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) 4 poses a theoretical puzzle (Rahat, 2007).

Even though it is understandable that residents will be involved in processes of decision-making when because of the straight to do this, governmental elites’ utilization of direct democratic instruments is harder to understand. What motivates regulating authorities to start referendums? Why should democratically legitimised representatives voluntarily provide their monopoly up to legislate, redistribute energy downwards, equal themselves with ordinary residents in governmental decision-making, and eventually expose by themselves into the danger of losing in the ballot package? The main purpose of this explorative research is to present prospective answers to these concerns.