Direct Democracy

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The term refers to any of a group of procedures in which the polity votes directly on an issue of policy instead of having such issues determined through the standard legislative or elective process. There are three main types of "direct democracy":

  • Initiatives, wherein new statutory or constitutional language is put before the voters by citizens themselves (generally, by petition),
  • Referenda, wherein government policies proposed by a legislative body must be ratified by the electorate, and
  • Recalls, wherein the populace can vote to remove an elected governmental official before the end of his term.

Proponents and critics of direct democracy cross party lines. In the U.S. context, direct democracy was championed by the Progressive Party. In recent years, however, most direct democracry efforts have benefited conservatives, largely because a small, zealous minority can get an initiative or recall on the ballot; sometimes the most zealous minorities are social conservatives.

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