Direct Democracy

This publication is only available in electronic format
1 January 2016
W. Elliot Bulmer
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Direct democracy describes those rules, institutions and processes that enable the public to vote directly on a proposed constitutional amendment, law, treaty or policy decision. The most important forms of direct democracy covered in this Primer are referendums and initiatives.

Direct democracy enables people to vote on important issues that may be excluded from, or cut across, representative party politics. The decision of the popular majority can be expressed beyond representative processes that are potentially distorted and elitist.

International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Primers are designed to assist in-country constitution-building or constitutional-reform processes by helping citizens, political parties, civil society organisations, public officials, and members of constituent assemblies make wise constitutional choices.

They also provide guidance for staff of intergovernmental organizations and other external actors working to provide well-informed, context-relevant support to local decision-makers.