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Encyclopedia > Direct democracy

This series is part of
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Forms of government series The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. ... A form of government (also referred to as a system of government or a political system) is a system composed of various people, institutions and their relations in regard to the governance of a state. ...

Politics Portal ·  v  d  e  The history of democracy traces back from its origins in ancient world to its re-emergence and rise from the 17th century to the present day. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into List of types of democracy. ... It has been suggested that Democracy (varieties) be merged into this article or section. ... Anticipatory democracy is a theory of civics relying on democratic decision making that takes into account predictions of future events that have some credibility with the electorate. ... The speakers platform in the Pnyx, the meeting ground of the assembly where all the great political struggles of Athens were fought during the Golden Age. Here Athenian statesmen stood to speak, such as Pericles and Aristides in the 5th century BC and Demosthenes and Aeschines in the 4th... Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision making to the process of legislation. ... Deliberative democracy, also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a term used by political theorists, e. ... Technically speaking, an illiberal democracy could be any democracy that is not a liberal democracy. ... Liberal democracy is a form of government. ... Non-partisan democracy (also no-party democracy) is a system of representative government or organization such that universal and periodic elections (by secret ballot) take place without reference to political parties or even the speeches, campaigns, nominations, or other apparatus commonly associated with democracy. ... Participatory democracy is a broadly inclusive term for many kinds of consultative decision making which require consultation on important decisions by those who will carry out the decision. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... Republican democracy is a republic which has democracy. ... Social democracy is a political ideology emerging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from supporters of Marxism who believed that the transition to a socialist society could be achieved through democratic evolutionary rather than revolutionary means. ... For the Soviet republics of the Soviet Union, see Republics of the Soviet Union. ... Demarchy is a term coined by Australian philosopher John Burnheim to describe a political system without the state or bureaucracies, and based instead on randomly selected groups of decision makers. ...

Direct democracy, classically termed pure democracy,[1] comprises a form of democracy and theory of civics wherein sovereignty is lodged in the assembly of all citizens who choose to participate. Depending on the particular system, this assembly might pass executive motions (decrees), make law, elect and dismiss officials and conduct trials. Where the assembly elected officials, these were executive agents or direct representatives (bound to the will of the people). In a representative democracy sovereignty is exercised by a subset of the people, elected periodically, but otherwise free to advance their own agendas. The word theory has a number of distinct meanings in different fields of knowledge, depending on their methodologies and the context of discussion. ... Civics is the science of comparative government and means of administering public trusts—the theory of governance as applied to state institutions. ... Citizenship is membership in a political community (originally a city or town but now usually a country) and carries with it rights to political participation; a person having such membership is a citizen. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ...

It also deals with how citizens are "directly" involved with voting for various laws, instead of voting for representative to decide for them.

Modern direct democracy is characterized by three pillars:

The second pillar can include the ability to hold a binding referendum on whether a given law should be scrapped. This effectively grants the populace a veto on government legislation. The third pillar gives the people the right to recall elected officials by petition and referendum. initiative, see Initiative (disambiguation). ... Elections Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A referendum (plural: referendums or referenda) or plebiscite (from Latin plebiscita, originally a decree of the Concilium Plebis) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. ... A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office. ...

Other institutions exist which are regarded as being directly democratic in character. In particular, the use of sortition to fill posts in government or decision making bodies and the formation of Citizen Assemblies for collective decision making (Canada used this to come up with a proposal for a new constitution). Sortition is the method of random selection, particularly in relation to the selection of decision makers also known as allotment. ... The Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform is a group created by the government of British Columbia, Canada to investigate changes to the provincial electoral system. ...



Switzerland provides the strongest example of modern direct democracy, as it exhibits the first two pillars at both the local and federal levels. In the past 120 years more than 240 initiatives have been put to referendum. The populace has been conservative, approving only about 10% of the initiatives put before them; in addition, they have often opted for a version of the initiative rewritten by government. (See Direct democracy in Switzerland below.)

Another distinctive example comes from the United States, where, despite being a federal republic where no direct democracy exists at the federal level, over half the states (and many localities) provide for citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives (also called "ballot measures" or "ballot questions") and the vast majority of the states have either initiatives and/or referenda. (See Direct democracy in the United States below.) The Federal Republic of Germany and its sixteen Bundesländer (federal states) A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Chief Justice Associate Justices Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Counties/Parishes/Boroughs, Cities, and Towns Other countries Politics Portal      A U.S. state is any one of the fifty subnational entities of...

Some of the issues surrounding the related notion of a direct democracy using the Internet and other communications technologies are dealt with in e-democracy. More concisely, the concept of open source governance applies principles of the open source movement to the governance of people, allowing the entire populace to participate in government directly, as much or as little as they please. This development strains the traditional concept of democracy, because it does not give equal representation to each person. Some implementations may even be considered democratically-inspired meritocracies, where contributers to the code of laws are given preference based on their ranking by other contributers. E-democracy (a neologism and contraction of electronic democracy) is the utilization of electronic communications technologies, such as the Internet, in enhancing democratic processes within a democratic republic or representative democracy. ... Open source governance advocates the application of the philosophies of the open source movement to democratic principles, to enable any interested citizen to add to the creation of new policy—rather like a wiki document. ... The open source movement is an offshoot of the free software movement that advocates open source software as an alternative label for free software, primarily on pragmatic rather than philosophical grounds. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Also relevant is the history of Roman democracy beginning circa 449 BC (Cary, 1967). The ancient Roman Republic's "citizen lawmaking"—citizen formulation and passage of law, as well as citizen veto of legislature-made law—began about 449 BC and lasted the approximately four hundred years to the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. Many historians mark the end of the Republic on the passage of a law named the Lex Titia, 27 November 43 BC (Cary, 1967). Ancient Rome was a civilization that grew from a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula circa the 9th century BC to a massive empire straddling the Mediterranean Sea. ... Centuries: 6th century BC - 5th century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 490s BC 480s BC 470s BC 460s BC 450s BC - 440s BC - 430s BC 420s BC 410s BC 400s BC 390s BC 454 BC 453 BC 452 BC 451 BC 450 BC 449 BC 448 BC 447 BC 446... Gaius Julius Caesar [1] (Latin pronunciation ; English pronunciation ; July 12 or July 13, 100 BC or 102 BC – March 15, 44 BC), was a Roman military and political leader and one of the most influential men of World history. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC 50s BC - 40s BC - 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC 0s BC 0s Years: 49 BC 48 BC 47 BC 46 BC 45 BC 44 BC 43 BC 42 BC 41 BC... The Lex Titia was a Roman law that granted triumvirates the right to rule for a period of five years. ... is the 331st day of the year (332nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 1st century BC - 1st century Decades: 90s BC 80s BC 70s BC 60s BC 50s BC - 40s BC - 30s BC 20s BC 10s BC 0s BC 0s Years: 48 BC 47 BC 46 BC 45 BC 44 BC 43 BC 42 BC 41 BC 40 BC...

Since Athenian democracy, however, this form of government has rarely been used (some governments have implemented it in part but few as fully as in ancient Athens). Modern mass-suffrage democracies generally rely on representatives elected by citizens (that is, representative democracy). The speakers platform in the Pnyx, the meeting ground of the assembly where all the great political struggles of Athens were fought during the Golden Age. Here Athenian statesmen stood to speak, such as Pericles and Aristides in the 5th century BC and Demosthenes and Aeschines in the 4th... Elections Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Suffrage (from the Latin suffragium, meaning vote) is the civil right to vote, or the exercise of that right. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ...

Modern-era citizen lawmaking began in the towns of Switzerland in the 13th century. In 1847, the Swiss added the "statute referendum" to their national constitution. They soon discovered that merely having the power to veto Parliament's laws was not enough. In 1891, they added the "constitutional amendment initiative". The Swiss political battles since 1891 have given the world a valuable experience base with the national-level constitutional amendment initiative (Kobach, 1993). (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... 1847 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Year 1891 (MDCCCXCI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ...

Many political movements seek to restore some measure of direct democracy or a more deliberative democracy (based on consensus decision-making rather than simple majority rule). Such movements advocate more frequent public votes and referenda on issues, and less of the so-called "rule by politician". Collectively, these movements are referred to as advocating grassroots democracy or consensus democracy, to differentiate it from a simple direct democracy model. Another related movement is community politics which seeks to engage representatives with communities directly. Politics is the process and method of decision-making for groups of human beings. ... Deliberative democracy, also sometimes called discursive democracy, is a term used by political theorists, e. ... Consensus decision-making is a decision-making process that not only seeks the agreement of most participants, but also to resolve or mitigate the objections of the minority to achieve the most agreeable decision. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. ... For other meanings, see Grass roots (disambiguation). ... Consensus democracy is the application of consensus decision making to the process of legislation. ... Community politics is a movement in British politics to re-engage people with political action on a local level. ...

The anarchist movement has advocated forms of direct democracy as an alternative to the centralized state and capitalism. Anarchism is a generic term describing various political philosophies and social movements that advocate the elimination of hierarchy and imposed authority. ...

Arguments for direct democracy

Arguments in favor of direct democracy tend to focus on perceived flaws in the alternative, representative democracy: Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ...

  • Non representation. Individuals elected to office in a representative democracy tend not to be demographically representative of their constituency. They tend to be wealthier and more educated, and are also more predominantly male as well as members of the majority race, ethnic group, and religion than a random sample would produce. They also tend to be concentrated in certain professions, such as lawyers. Elections by district may reduce, but not eliminate, those tendencies, in a segregated society. Direct democracy would be inherently representative, assuming universal suffrage (where everyone can vote). Critics counter that direct democracy can be unrepresentative, if not all eligible voters participate in every vote, and that this is lacking voter turnout is not equally distributed among various groups. Greater levels of education, especially regarding law, seem to have many advantages and disadvantages in lawmaking.
  • Conflict of interest. The interests of elected representatives do not necessarily correspond with those of their constituents. An example is that representatives often get to vote to determine their own salaries. It is in their interest that the salaries be high, while it is in the interest of the electorate that they be as low as possible, since they are funded with tax revenue. The typical results of representative democracy are that their salaries are much higher than this average, however. Critics counter that salaries for representatives are necessary, otherwise only the wealthy can participate. As a very important and complex occupation, it is only fair that the they are well paid. This can also reduce the risk for corruption.
  • Corruption. The concentration of power intrinsic to representative government is seen by some as tending to create corruption. In direct democracy, the possibility for corruption is reduced.
  • Political parties. The formation of political parties is considered by some to be a "necessary evil" of representative democracy, where combined resources are often needed to get candidates elected. However, such parties mean that individual representatives must compromise their own values and those of the electorate, in order to fall in line with the party platform. At times, only a minor compromise is needed. At other times such a large compromise is demanded that a representative will resign or switch parties. In structural terms, the party system may be seen as a form of oligarchy. (Hans Köchler, 1995) Meanwhile, in direct democracy, political parties have virtually no effect, as people do not need to conform with popular opinions. In addition to party cohesion, representatives may also compromise in order to achieve other objectives, by passing combined legislation, where for example minimum wage measures are combined with tax relief. In order to satisfy one desire of the electorate, the representative may have to abandon a second principle. In direct democracy, each issue would be decided on its own merits, and so "special interests" would not be able to include unpopular measures in this way.
  • Cost of elections. Many resources are spent on elections which could be applied elsewhere. Furthermore, the need to raise campaign contributions is felt to seriously damage the neutrality of representatives, who are beholden to major contributors, and reward them, at the very least, by granting access to government officials. However, direct democracy would require many more votings, which would be costly, and also probably campaigns by those who may lose or gain from the results.
  • Patronage and nepotism. Elected individuals frequently appoint people to high positions based on their mutual loyalty, as opposed to their competence. For example, Michael D. Brown was appointed to head the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, despite a lack of experience. His subsequent poor performance following Hurricane Katrina may have greatly increased the number of deaths. In a direct democracy where everybody voted for agency heads, it wouldn't be likely for them to be elected solely based on their relationship with the voters. On the other hand, most people may have no knowledge of the candidates and get tired of voting for every agency head. As a result, mostly friends and relatives may vote.
  • Lack of transparency. Supporters argue that direct democracy, where people vote directly for issues concerning them, would result in greater political transparency than representative democracy. Critics argue that representative democracy can be equally transparent. In both systems people cannot vote on everything, leaving many decisions to some forms of managers, requiring strong Freedom of Information legislation for transparency.
  • Insufficient sample size.It is often noted that prediction markets most of the time produce remarkably efficient predictions regarding the future. Many, maybe even most, individuals make bad predictions, but the resulting average prediction is often surprisingly good. If the same applies to making political decisions, then direct democracy may produce very efficient decisions.
  • Lack of accountability. Once elected, representatives are free to act as they please. Promises made before the election are often broken, and they frequently act contrary to the wishes of their electorate. Although theoretically it is possible to have a representative democracy in which the representatives can be recalled at any time; in practice this is usually not the case. An instant recall process would, in fact, be a form of direct democracy.

Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Oligarchy (Greek , Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small, elite segment of society (whether distinguished by wealth, family or military prowess). ... The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. ... The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor, serves as the chief advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. ... Condoleezza Rice (born November 14, 1954) is the 66th United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush to hold the office. ... President Clintons Cabinet, circa 1993 Headed by President of the United States Bill Clinton, the Clinton Administation was the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from 1993 to 2001. ... A sequential look at United Flight 175 crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center The September 11, 2001 attacks (often referred to as 9/11—pronounced nine eleven or nine one one) consisted of a series of coordinated terrorist[1] suicide attacks upon the United States, predominantly... The Bush administration includes President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Bushs Cabinet, and other select officials and advisors. ... Michael Brownie Brown For other people of the same name, see Michael Brown (disambiguation). ... New FEMA seal The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ... Lowest pressure 902 mbar (hPa; 26. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... Freedom of information can mean: whether a particular piece of information can be freely created, read, modified, copied and distributed; see free content (as well as free culture and free software) freedom to express ones opinions or ideas, generally, within a society; see freedom of speech the accessibility of... Prediction markets are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. ...

Arguments against direct democracy

  • Scale. Direct democracy works on a small system. For example, the Athenian Democracy governed a city of, at its height, about 30,000 eligible voters (free adult male citizens.) Town meetings, a form of local government once common in New England, has also worked well, often emphasizing consensus over majority rule. The use of direct democracy on a larger scale has historically been more difficult, however.[2] Nevertheless, developments in technology such as the internet, user-friendly and secure software, and inexpensive, powerful personal computers have all inspired new hope in the practicality of large scale applications of direct democracy.
  • Practicality and efficiency. Another objection to direct democracy is that of practicality and efficiency. Deciding all or most matters of public importance by direct referendum is slow and expensive (especially in a large community), and can result in public apathy and voter fatigue, especially when repeatedly faced with the same questions or with questions which are unimportant to the voter. Modern advocates of direct democracy often suggest e-democracy (sometimes including wikis, television and Internet forums) to address these problems.
  • Demagoguery. A fundamental objection to direct democracy is that the public generally gives only superficial attention to political issues and is thus susceptible to charismatic argument or demagoguery. The counter argument is that representative democracy causes voters not to pay attention, since each voter's opinion doesn't matter much and their legislative power is limited. However, if the electorate is large, direct democracy also brings the effect of diminished vote significance, lacking a majority vote policy.
One possible solution is demanding that a proposal requires the support of at least 50% of all citizens in order to pass, effectively meaning that absent voters count as "No" votes. This would prevent minorities from gaining power. However, this still means that the majority could be swayed by demagoguery. Also, this solution could be used by representative democracy.
  • Complexity. A further objection is that policy matters are often so complicated that not all voters understand them. The average voter may have little knowledge regarding the issues that should be decided. The arduous electoral process in representative democracies may mean that the elected leaders have above average ability and knowledge. Advocates of direct democracy argue, however, that laws need not be so complex and that having a permanent ruling class (especially when populated in large proportion by lawyers) leads to overly complex tax laws, etc. Critics doubt that laws can be extremely simplified and argue that many issues require expert knowledge. Supporters argue that such expert knowledge could be made available to the voting public.
  • Voter apathy. The average voter may not be interested in politics and therefore may not participate. This immediately reveals the lack of interest either in the issues themselves or in the options; sometimes people need to redefine the issues before they can vote either in favor or in opposition. A small amount of voter apathy is always to be expected, and this is not seen as a problem so long the levels remain constant among (do not target) specific groups of people. That is, if 10% of the population voted with representative samples from all groups in the population, then in theory, the outcome would be correct. Nevertheless, the high level of voter apathy would reveal a substantial escalation in voter fatigue and political disconnect. The risk is, however, that voter apathy would not apply to special interest groups. For example, most farmers may vote for a proposal to increase agricultural subsidies to themselves while the general population ignore this issue. If many special interest groups do the same thing, then the resources of the state may be exhausted. One possible solution is compulsory voting, although this has problems of its own such as restriction of freedom, costs of enforcement, and random voting.
  • Self-Interest. The voter will tend to look after his or her own interest rather than considering the needs and values of a society as a whole. Thus it is very difficult under a system of direct democracy to make a law which benefits a smaller group if it hurts a larger group, even if the benefit to the small group outweighs that of the larger group. This point is also an argument in favour of Direct Democracy, as current representative party systems often make descions that are not in line with or in favour of the mass of the population, but of a small elite group. Making it dificult to enshrine laws that benefit the small minority of the ruling class will level the playing field and provide a fair voice for all members of a society. It should be noted that this is a criticism of democracy in general, but is particularly acute for direct democracy. "Fiscal responsibility", for instance, is difficult under true direct democracy, as people generally do not wish to pay taxes[citation needed], despite the fact that governments need a source of revenue.

A town meeting is a meeting where an entire geographic area is invited to participate in a gathering, often for a political or administrative purpose. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Majoritarianism (often also called majority rule) is a political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority (sometimes categorized by religion, language or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the... Apathy is a psychological term for a state of indifference — where an individual is unresponsive or indifferent to aspects of emotional, social, or physical life. ... In politics, voter fatigue is the apathy that the public can experience when they are required to vote too often. ... Look up Wiki in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... A demagogue (sometimes spelled demagog) is a leader who obtains power by appealing to the gut feelings of the public, usually by powerful use of rhetoric and propaganda. ... A subsidy is generally a monetary grant given by government in support of an activity regarded as being in the public interest. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... -1...

Direct democracy in Switzerland

In Switzerland, single majorities are sufficient at the town, city, and state (canton and half-canton) level, but at the national level, "double majorities" are required on constitutional matters. The intent of the double majorities is simply to ensure any citizen-made law's legitimacy (Kobach, 1993). The twenty-six cantons of Switzerland are the states of the federal state of Switzerland. ... The word legitimacy comes from the Latin word legitimare and it has two uses: Legitimacy (political science) is variously defined, but refers in general to the peoples acceptance of a law, ruling, or a regime itself as valid. ...

Double majorities are, first, the approval by a majority of those voting, and, second, a majority of states in which a majority of those voting approve the ballot measure. A citizen-proposed law (i.e. initiative) cannot be passed in Switzerland at the national level if a majority of the people approve, but a majority of the states disapprove (Kobach, 1993). For referenda or proposition in general terms (like the principle of a general revision of the Constitution), the majority of those voting is enough (Swiss constitution, 2005). initiative, see Initiative (disambiguation). ...

In 1890, when the provisions for Swiss national citizen lawmaking were being debated by civil society and government, the Swiss copied the idea of double majorities from the United States Congress, in which House votes were to represent the people and Senate votes were to represent the states (Kobach, 1993). According to its supporters, this "legitimacy-rich" approach to national citizen lawmaking has been very successful. Kobach claims that Switzerland has had tandem successes both socially and economically which are matched by only a few other nations, and that the United States is not one of them. Kobach states at the end of his book, "Too often, observers deem Switzerland an oddity among political systems. It is more appropriate to regard it as a pioneer." Finally, the Swiss political system, including its direct democratic devices in a multi-level governance context, becomes increasingly interesting for scholars of EU integration (see Trechsel, 2005). 1890 (MDCCCXC) was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar). ... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political groups (as of November 7, 2006 elections) Democratic Party Republican...

Direct democracy in the United States

Direct democracy was very much opposed by the framers of the United States Constitution and some signers of the Declaration of Independence. They saw a danger in majorities forcing their will on minorities. As a result, they advocated a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional republic over a direct democracy. For example, James Madison, in Federalist No. 10 advocates a constitutional republic over direct democracy precisely to protect the individual from will of the majority. He says, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths." [3] John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, said "Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state — it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage." Alexander Hamilton said, "That a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity…". The American tradition of direct democracy dates from the 1630s in the New England Colonies. ... The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. ... The United States Declaration of Independence was an act of the Second Continental Congress, adopted on July 4, 1776, which declared that the Thirteen Colonies were independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain. ... Representative democracy is a form of democracy founded on the exercise of popular sovereignty by the peoples representatives. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A constitutional republic is a state where the head of state and other officials are elected as representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the governments power over citizens. ... James Madison (March 16, 1751 – June 28, 1836), an American politician and fourth President of the United States of America (1809–1817), was one of the most influential Founders of the United States. ... James Madison, author of Federalist No. ... A declaration of independence is an assertion of the independence of an aspiring state or states. ... Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757–July 12, 1804) was an Army officer, lawyer, Founding Father, American politician, leading statesman, financier and political theorist. ...

Despite the framers' intentions in the beginning of the republic, ballot measures and their corresponding referenda have been widely used at the state and sub-state level. There is much state and federal case law, from the early 1900s to the 1990s, that protects the people's right to each of these direct democracy governance components (Magleby, 1984, and Zimmerman, 1999). The first United States Supreme Court ruling in favor of the citizen lawmaking was in Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company v. Oregon, 223 U.S. 118—in 1912 (Zimmerman, December 1999). President Theodore Roosevelt, in his "Charter of Democracy" speech to the 1912 Ohio constitutional convention, stated "I believe in the Initiative and Referendum, which should be used not to destroy representative government, but to correct it whenever it becomes misrepresentative." Case law (precedential law) is the body of judge-made law and legal decisions that interprets prior case law, statutes and other legal authority -- including doctrinal writings by legal scholars such as the Corpus Juris Secundum, Halsburys Laws of England or the doctinal writings found in the Recueil Dalloz... // Public flight demonstration of an airplane by Alberto Santos-Dumont in Paris, November 12, 1906. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States... The presidential seal is a well-known symbol of the presidency. ... Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus Largest metro area Cleveland Area  Ranked 34th  - Total 44,825 sq mi (116,096 km²)  - Width 220 miles (355 km)  - Length 220 miles (355 km)  - % water 8. ...

In various states, referenda through which the people rule include:

  • Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed constitutional amendments" (constitutionally used in 49 states, excepting only Delaware — Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
  • Referrals by the legislature to the people of "proposed statute laws" (constitutionally used in all 50 states — Initiative & Referendum Institute, 2004).
  • Constitutional amendment initiative is the most powerful citizen-initiated, direct democracy governance component. It is a constitutionally-defined petition process of "proposed constitutional law," which, if successful, results in its provisions being written directly into the state's constitution. Since constitutional law cannot be altered by state legislatures, this direct democracy component gives the people an automatic superiority and sovereignty, over representative government (Magelby, 1984). It is utilized at the state level in eighteen states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota (Cronin, 1989). Among the eighteen states, there are three main types of the constitutional amendment initiative, with different degrees of involvement of the state legislature distinguishing between the types (Zimmerman, December 1999).
  • Statute law initiative is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of "proposed statute law," which, if successful, results in law being written directly into the state's statutes. The statute initiative is used at the state level in twenty-one states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989). Note that, in Utah, there is no constitutional provision for citizen lawmaking. All of Utah's I&R law is in the state statutes (Zimmerman, December 1999). In most states, there is no special protection for citizen-made statutes; the legislature can begin to amend them immediately.
  • Statute law referendum is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process of the "proposed veto of all or part of a legislature-made law," which, if successful, repeals the standing law. It is used at the state level in twenty-four states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming (Cronin, 1989).
  • The recall is a constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, petition process, which, if successful, removes an elected official from office by "recalling" the official's election. In most state and sub-state jurisdictions having this governance component, voting for the ballot that determines the recall includes voting for one of a slate of candidates to be the next office holder, if the recall is successful. It is utilized at the state level in eighteen states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2004, Recall Of State Officials).

There are now a total of 34 U.S. states with constitutionally-defined, citizen-initiated, direct democracy governance components (Zimmerman, December 1999). In the United States, for the most part only one-time majorities are required (simple majority of those voting) to approve any of these components. Official language(s) None Capital Dover Largest city Wilmington Area  Ranked 49th  - Total 2,491 sq mi (6,452 km²)  - Width 30 miles (48 km)  - Length 100 miles (161 km)  - % water 21. ... Official language(s) English Capital Phoenix Largest city Phoenix Area  Ranked 6th  - Total 113,998 sq mi (295,254 km²)  - Width 310 miles (500 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Little Rock Largest city Little Rock Area  Ranked 29th  - Total 53,179 sq mi (137,002 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 261 miles (420 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Sacramento Largest city Los Angeles Area  Ranked 3rd  - Total 158,302 sq mi (410,000 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 770 miles (1,240 km)  - % water 4. ... Official language(s) English Capital Denver Largest city Denver Area  Ranked 8th  - Total 104,185 sq mi (269,837 km²)  - Width 280 miles (451 km)  - Length 380 miles (612 km)  - % water 0. ... Official language(s) English Capital Tallahassee Largest city Jacksonville Largest metro area Miami Area  Ranked 22nd  - Total 65,795[1] sq mi (170,304[1] km²)  - Width 361 miles (582 km)  - Length 447 miles (721 km)  - % water 17. ... Official language(s) English[1] Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Largest metro area Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 57,918 sq mi (149,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  Ranked 44th  - Total 10,555 sq mi (27,360 km²)  - Width 183 miles (295 km)  - Length 113 miles (182 km)  - % water 13. ... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Official language(s) English Capital Jefferson City Largest city Kansas City Largest metro area St Louis Metro[1] Area  Ranked 21st  - Total 69,709 sq mi (180,693 km²)  - Width 240 miles (385 km)  - Length 300 miles (480 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) English Capital Helena Largest city Billings Area  Ranked 4th  - Total 147,165 sq mi (381,156 km²)  - Width 255 miles (410 km)  - Length 630 miles (1,015 km)  - % water 1  - Latitude 44°26N to 49°N  - Longitude 104°2W to 116°2W Population  Ranked... Official language(s) English Capital Lincoln Largest city Omaha Largest metro area Omaha Area  Ranked 16th  - Total 77,421 sq mi (200,520 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 430 miles (690 km)  - % water 0. ... there is a jungle in nevada by the park This article is about the U. S. state of Nevada. ... Official language(s) English Capital Bismarck Largest city Fargo Area  Ranked 19th  - Total 70,762 sq mi (183,272 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 340 miles (545 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus Largest metro area Cleveland Area  Ranked 34th  - Total 44,825 sq mi (116,096 km²)  - Width 220 miles (355 km)  - Length 220 miles (355 km)  - % water 8. ... Official language(s) None Capital Oklahoma City Largest city Oklahoma City Area  Ranked 20th  - Total 69,960 sq mi (181,196 km²)  - Width 230 miles (370 km)  - Length 298 miles (480 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) (none)[1] Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 9th  - Total 98,466 sq mi (255,026 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Pierre Largest city Sioux Falls Area  Ranked 17th  - Total 77,163 sq mi (199,905 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 380 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) English[1] Spoken language(s) English 85. ... Official language(s) English [1] Capital Boise Largest city Boise Area  Ranked 14th  - Total 83,642 sq mi (216,632 km²)  - Width 305 miles (491 km)  - Length 479 miles (771 km)  - % water 0. ... Official language(s) None (English and French de facto) Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 39th  - Total 33,414 sq mi (86,542 km²)  - Width 210 miles (338 km)  - Length 320 miles (515 km)  - % water 13. ... Official language(s) English Capital Salt Lake City Largest city Salt Lake City Area  Ranked 13th  - Total 84,889 sq mi (219,887 km²)  - Width 270 miles (435 km)  - Length 350 miles (565 km)  - % water 3. ... Official language(s) English Capital Olympia Largest city Seattle Area  Ranked 18th  - Total 71,342 sq mi (184,827 km²)  - Width 240 miles (385 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 6. ... Official language(s) English Capital Cheyenne Largest city Cheyenne Area  Ranked 10th  - Total 97,818 sq mi (253,348 km²)  - Width 280 miles (450 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 0. ... Official language(s) English[1] Capital Frankfort Largest city Louisville Area  Ranked 37th  - Total 40,444 sq mi (104,749 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... Official language(s) None (English, de facto) Capital Annapolis Largest city Baltimore Area  Ranked 42nd  - Total 12,407 sq mi (32,133 km²)  - Width 90 miles (145 km)  - Length 249 miles (400 km)  - % water 21  - Latitude 37°53N to 39°43N  - Longitude 75°4W to 79°33... Capital Santa Fe Largest city Albuquerque Area  Ranked 5th  - Total 121,665 sq mi (315,194 km²)  - Width 342 miles (550 km)  - Length 370 miles (595 km)  - % water 0. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Official language(s) de jure: none de facto: English & French Capital Baton Rouge Largest city New Orleans [1] Area  Ranked 31st  - Total 51,885 sq mi (134,382 km²)  - Width 130 miles (210 km)  - Length 379 miles (610 km)  - % water 16  - Latitude 29°N to 33°N  - Longitude 89°W... Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  Ranked 12th  - Total 87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 8. ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  Ranked 47th  - Total 8,729 sq mi (22,608 km²)  - Width 70 miles (110 km)  - Length 150 miles (240 km)  - % water 14. ... Official language(s) English Capital Providence Largest city Providence Area  Ranked 50th  - Total 1,214* [1] sq mi (3,144* km²)  - Width 37 miles (60 km)  - Length 48 miles (77 km)  - % water 32. ... Official language(s) None Capital Madison Largest city Milwaukee Area  Ranked 23rd  - Total 65,498 sq mi (169,790 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 310 miles (500 km)  - % water 17  - Latitude 42°30N to 47°3N  - Longitude 86°49W to 92°54W Population  Ranked...

In addition, many localities around the U.S. also provide for some or all of these direct democracy governance components, and in specific classes of initiatives (like those for raising taxes), there is a supermajority voting threshold requirement. Even in states where direct democracy components are scant or nonexistent at the state level, there often exists local options for deciding specific issues, such as whether a county should be "wet" or "dry" in terms of whether alcohol sales are allowed. A supermajority or a qualified majority is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level or type of support which exceeds a simple majority in order to have effect. ... Local option is the freedom in the United states whereby local political jurisdictions, typically counties or municipalities, can decide by popular vote certain controversial issues within their borders. ...

In the U.S. region of New England, nearly all towns practice a very limited form of home rule, and decide local affairs through the direct democratic process of the town meeting. Look up Region in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... Devolution or Home rule is the pooling of powers from central government to government at regional or local level. ... A town meeting is a meeting where an entire geographic area is invited to participate in a gathering, often for a political or administrative purpose. ...

In 2002, the Populist Party of America was formed to promote the creation of direct democracy in America. For the late nineteenth-century political party, see Populist Party (United States). ...


  1. ^ A. Democracy in World Book Encyclopedia, World Book Inc., 2006. B. Pure democracy entry in Merriam-Webster Dictionary. C. Pure democracy entry in American Heritage Dictionary"
  2. ^ Jane J. Mansbridge. Beyond Adversary Democracy (1983)
  3. ^ [1]


“Anarchist” redirects here. ...


  • Cary, M. (1967) A History Of Rome: Down To The Reign Of Constantine. St. Martin's Press, 2nd edition.
  • Cronin, Thomas E. (1989). Direct Democracy: The Politics Of Initiative, Referendum, And Recall. Harvard University Press. Despite the author's bias against direct democracy, the book is a good read for the issues, personalities, and organizations in the Progressive period of the Reform Era.
  • Finley, M.I. (1973). Democracy Ancient And Modern. Rutgers University Press.
  • Fotopoulos, Takis (2005). The Multidimensional Crisis and Inclusive Democracy. Gordios, Athens. (English translation from the original Greek) [2]
  • Gerber, Elisabeth R. (1999). The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence And The Promise Of Direct Legislation. Princeton University Press.
  • Hansen, Mogens Herman (1999). The Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes: Structure, Principles and Ideology. University of Oklahoma, Norman (orig. 1991).
  • Kobach, Kris W. (1993). The Referendum: Direct Democracy In Switzerland. Dartmouth Publishing Company. Kobach's title is somewhat misleading. In addition to Switzerland, he discusses direct democracy in many countries, as well as in California.
  • Köchler, Hans (1995). A Theoretical Examination of the Dichotomy between Democratic Constitutions and Political Reality. University Center Luxemburg.
  • Magleby, David B. (1984). Direct Legislation: Voting On Ballot Propositions In The United States. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • National Conference of State Legislatures, (2004). Recall Of State Officials
  • Polybius (c.150 BC). The Histories. Oxford University, The Great Histories Series, Ed., Hugh R. Trevor-Roper and E. Badian. Translated by Mortimer Chanbers. Washington Square Press, Inc (1966).
  • Trechsel, Alexander H. (2005). Towards a Federal Europe? Special issue of the Journal of European Public Policy, 12(3).
  • Zimmerman, Joseph F. (March 1999). The New England Town Meeting: Democracy In Action. Praeger Publishers.
  • Zimmerman, Joseph F. (December 1999). The Initiative: Citizen Law-Making. Praeger Publishers.

Takis Fotopoulos (born October 14, 1940) is a Greek political writer and former academic. ... The theoretical project of Inclusive Democracy (ID; as distinguished from the political project which is part of the democratic and autonomy traditions) emerged from the work of political philosopher, former academic and activist Takis Fotopoulos in Towards An Inclusive Democracy, Cassell/Continuum, London/New York, 1997, 401 pp. ... Mogens Herman Hansen (b. ... Hans Köchler (born October 18, 1948 in Schwaz, Tyrol, Austria) is Full Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. ...

External links


The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as dmoz (from , its original domain name), is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links owned by Netscape that is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors. ...

Puerto Rico

  • Official Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Web Site

New Zealand



  • Kol1 - Movement for Direct Democracy In Israel.

United States

  • Official Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Web Site
  • Initiative & Referendum Institute
  • The Populist Party of America

United Kingdom

  • Social Ecology London - promoting direct democracy through local citizens assemblies


  • blog Democracia Directa, blog Democracia Directa (Argentina)

  Results from FactBites:
Free book: Beyond Plutocracy - Direct Democracy for America, Home/Table of Contents (7534 words)
But the usually proposed alternative, unlimited majority-rule direct democracy, were it ever tried, would only result in “the tyranny of democracy,” the political, economic, religious, and behavioral tyranny of the simple majority over the rest of the populace.
Unlike the winner-take-all, majority-rule democracy of old in which the simple majority vote wins and all others lose, the consensus democracy described here and practiced by the electorate in the demos has no winners and losers but results in the consensus of the entire electorate, a moderate “golden mean” that avoids all extremes.
The president and all senators are elected by direct popular vote from the nation at-large, and each state’s quota of representatives is elected from the state at-large.
1 Emergent Democracy (0 words)
By direct democracy, we don’t mean simple majority rule, but a system that evolves away from the broadcast style of managed consensus to a democratic style of collective consensus derived from “many-to-many” conversations.
Democracy is itself an incomplete and emergent political system, and must, by its nature, adapt to new ideas and evolving social standards.
Representative democracy allows leaders to specialize and focus on the complex issues of governance, which an uneducated and uninterested general population could not be expected to grasp.
  More results at FactBites »



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