5 Sep 2016

Referendums are in vogue - so let's get them right

Referendums are becoming increasingly popular, internationally and domestically. Since the first UK referendum in 1975, the UK has held three nationally, and 11 in UK countries or English regions, with even more at a local level. And since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, two national referendums, a Scottish Independence referendum, and a Welsh devolution referendum have all been held. It […]
5 Jul 2016

5 things this EU vote has taught us about referendums

Whichever way you feel about the result, most people are glad the EU referendum campaign is over. To put it diplomatically, it wasn’t the highest quality debate in the world. Particularly for those on the losing side, referendums can seem like the worst way to do democracy – an instrument that leaves as many dissatisfied as satisfied with the result. But referendums aren’t good or bad in […]
15 Oct 2015

What is the plural of referendum? Political disengagement...

Switzerland. A land of chocolate, neutrality and a surprisingly well-armed population . Switzerland is also home to a unique democratic system, the closest to direct democracy in the world. Citizens have the ability to force two types of referendums. The first requires 50,000 signatures and allows citizens the option to veto any law going through parliament. The second requires 100,000 signatures […]
18 Aug 2015

The New Zealand Flag Referendum

For many years the New Zealand flag has been the subject of much debate. Adopted when New Zealand was still a part of the British Empire, their national standard has the British flag within it. On top of that, it closely resembles the Australian flag - which is also partly made up of the British flag. New Zealand is not the first ex-British colony to launch a national debate on its flag. The […]
23 Jan 2014

Democracy: the year ahead

There will be elections aplenty in 2014 at home and abroad: the last locals ahead of the 2015 General Election, to be held on the same day as polls for the European Parliament; Scotland’s referendum on 18 th September; major contests in Brazil and US mid-terms in November kicking off the 2016 presidential election. Underlying these are three democracy moments to watch, with implications beyond […]
26 Jul 2013

A civil referendum

The chances of Scotland having a high-quality and inclusive debate about independence just got significantly higher. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has given charities and voluntary organisations the green light to campaign during next year’s referendum, whether on the ‘yes’ side or the ‘no’ side . The only proviso is that their campaigning conforms with their charitable aims […]