Direct democracy: Facts, arguments and experiences on the introduction of initiative and referendum


[Free download] How democratic are our political systems? Around a century ago, many countries in Europe introduced universal voting rights. Since then, the opportunities for citizens to take part in the political decision-making process have for the most part never been extended any further. But society has definitely evolved considerably. This up-to-date book pleads for a major democratic step forward.

Representative political systems are at odds with the principle of popular sovereignty. A small group of party leaders makes the major decisions. Public debate about our future only flares up during elections, after which the citizens are compelled to stand on the sidelines again for another four years. Surveys show that a large proportion of the population has lost faith in political institutions. Can such a political system produce solutions for the major issues of these times?

Jos Verhulst and Arjen Nijeboer show how the introduction of direct democracy can return sovereignty to the people. They discuss experiences with binding citizens’ initiative referendums at home and abroad, and chart a new – and often surprising – course towards a society of free and responsible citizens. They also examine the objections to citizen-initiated referendums.