Democracy after Scotland's independence referendum

MM mm at
Wed Mar 11 11:21:25 GMT 2015

Malcolm Harvey writes in The Herald (Scotland)
Should we have more referendums to boost participation in the political 
He starts, "The staggering democratic success of September's 
independence referendum, in which 85 per cent of the Scottish electorate 
cast a ballot, bucked the trend of falling participation in politics."
Dr Harvey is a research fellow at the Centre for Constitutional Change 
and the University of Aberdeen.

INIREF, the Campaign for Direct Democracy, replies:

Most people consider that voting once every few years for (the promises 
of) politicians is a poor way to take part in public decisions which may 
deeply affect their own lives. In contrast, repeated surveys across the 
UK have shown that over seven out of ten adults agree that a large 
number of voters should be able to propose and instigate a referendum 
even if the ruling parties are aganst it.

The Power Inquiry (report 2006) looked in great detail at how people 
relate to politics and public affairs. They found that most people, 
including the young who take part less and less in conventional 
politics, are not apathetic about common affairs. In a survey of people 
who intend NOT to vote in elections, a majority said that they would 
take part in referenda.

Prof. Graham Smith, a political scientist, looked at "57 varieties" of 
political participation and found that the methods of direct democracy 
were the most effective. These methods include the citizens' law 
proposal and the citizen-instigated referendum. An outline of how these 
might work in Scotland may be found in an on-line forum here

In suggesting that there might be more referendums Malcolm Harvey does 
not show how this could be done in ways which people can trust because 
they are effective. Allowing leading politicians to use referendum as 
their own tool, when they decide on the proposition, the wording and the 
timing, does not produce good and effective democracy. The electorate 
should be able to initiate a binding referendum and to call an optional 
ballot to veto unwanted government policies.

Michael Macpherson (Dr.) for

I&R ~ GB Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain Basic presentation  Election campaign call

Herald article 

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