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The Employment 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 sobre las causas del uso de votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno


Department of Comparative Politics, University of Cologne

Within the last two years there's been an increase that is considerable how many referendums global. The literature that is existing direct democracy has thus far neglected to explain this occurrence by delivering a frequent concept regarding the reasons for referendums. This study that is explorative at undertaking steps toward shutting this gap by centering on the precise variety of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) and their use within presidential systems. Utilizing QC A (a case-sensitive technique based regarding the formal logic of Boolean algebra), this research systematically compares the political possibility structures of 49 presidential systems from 12 Latin US nations to identify the factors that spurred or obstructed the event of FGIR. It concludes that FGIR are closely associated with high quantities of party system fragmentation and split federal government, for example. two facets which may have always been deemed problematic when you look at the context of presidential systems, while their obstruction is primarily owed towards the certain constitutional conditions managing the referendum device.

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. No na sabido explicar el fenГіmeno mediante una teorГ­a consistente de las causas de los referendums sin embargo, la literatura existente sobre democracia directa. 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 obstrucciГіn se tiene que 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 the 1960s onwards, various nations of the world embraced the idea of direct democracy and over the past two decades. Up to now this literary works has primarily centered on the 2 nations that many frequently use referendums, Switzerland additionally the United States in the continuing state degree (Ladner and Brandle, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Papadopulos, 2001; Tolbert and Hero, 1996; Vatter and Freitag, 2006), while a smaller sized quantity of magazines have actually dedicated to the revolution of referendums entailed in the act of European integration (Hug and Sciarini, 2000; Franklin et ah, 1995). These magazines have significantly contributed to the knowledge concerning the effect of referendums on politics as well as on diverse societal aspects. But, they usually have maybe not yet produced a theory that is consistent the factors that cause referendums. The aim of this paper would be to undertake steps that are initial bridging this space.

To a big degree, the 'boom' in direct democracy could be credited toward the increased quantity of citizen-initiated referendums and, to a smaller extent, mandatory referendums (Morel, 2001) This development happens to be welcomed by advocates of direct democracy whom stress the potential of the tools to foster bottom-up involvement and vertical accountability (Barber, 1984; Schmitter, 2000). However, on several occasions, non-mandatory referendums on important governmental questions have now been initiated by governing bodies for example. legislatures or professionals. Such government-initiated referendums, which can be called plebiscites, 3 a phrase that holds a small negative connotation, mostly retain control of governmental decision-making in the possession of of elected officials.

Despite adding small to the entire upsurge 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 take part in processes of decision-making when because of the directly to do this, governmental elites' usage of direct democratic instruments is harder to grasp. Exactly What motivates regulating authorities to initiate referendums? Why should democratically legitimised representatives voluntarily give up their monopoly to legislate, redistribute power downwards, equal themselves with ordinary residents in governmental decision-making, and eventually expose on their own into the chance of losing during the ballot field? The main purpose of this study that is explorative to present potential responses to those concerns.