[EM] UK "post mortem" with an 'initiative' requiring a 'referendum'

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at t-online.de
Wed Jun 24 07:06:36 PDT 2015

On 06/22/2015 08:59 PM, steve bosworth wrote:

> Let me thank both Kristofer and Juho for their helpful realism
> concerning the practical possibilities of achieving electoral reforms.
> I would only want to add the reminder that some 20 states in the USA
> (like California) legally would allow their citizens to change their
> existing electoral system as a result of a majority vote in a referendum
> that had been required by enough of their citizens earlier signing the
> relevant 'initiative'.  In these states, citizens could vote for
> Thanksgiving even when the current politicians (i.e.the turkeys) are
> refusing to do so.

Initiatives are generally good tools because they let the people change 
what would otherwise be hard to change. They also fit with a concept of 
democracy where the legitimacy of the various systems flow from the 
assent of the people.

 From such a concept, representation and voting methods other than 
majority vote serve as ways to coordinate matters when doing it directly 
would be too difficult. The people agree to follow the results of a 
certain method if others do so as well, but the mechanism can be altered 
if it no longer serves its purpose.

Referenda have sometimes been criticized for being very coarse, though. 
Consider an initiative to lower some tax rate by, say, 5 pp. Should 
someone who'd like to lower it by 2.5 pp support this referendum? His 
choice is between 5pp or 0pp reduction. So perhaps one could apply 
advanced methods to referenda as well. Consider, for instance, every 
voter submitting his preferred reduction level and then the greatest 
reduction supported by a majority is chosen.

If one were to follow the concept of democracy above, then those types 
of referendum could be established by a majority-vote initiative of the 
type "permit this extended kind of referendum from now on". But I don't 
know if the initiative and referendum laws are that flexible.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list