A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may be a proposed law, constitutional amendment, or other public policy.
Referendum is a popular political tool in democracy. It is mostly used to decide over things of mass interest.
In some countries, it is also used as a tool for recalling elected officials.
Generally, a referendum is called to decide over an issue of massive public interest, when the situation requires a direct decision from common people and the popular one wins.
Issues or questions asked in a referendum could be a sensitive political agenda such as declaring the independence of a community or geographical area, adopting a new constitution, amendment of the constitution, repealing a law, etc., or could be a daily life issue such as how long should shopping malls or public gathering centers be open.
A referendum could be mandatory or advisory in nature.
In case of a mandatory referendum, the government or regulatory body must follow the result. It is also called a binding referendum.
In contrast, for an advisory referendum, the result helps the government or regulatory body to make the final decision. So it is non-binding.
Example Of Referendum
In this century, perhaps the perfect example of a referendum is BREXIT. To understand a referendum what could be better than studying a little bit about BREXIT referendum.
In short, BREXIT is the referendum held in the UK and Gibraltar to ask the electorate whether the country should remain a member of the European Union, or leave. It took place on 23 June 2016. The referendum resulted in 51.9% of the votes cast being in favor of leaving the EU.
Although the referendum was legally non-binding, the government of that time promised to implement the result. And the UK started the process of leaving the European Commission.
What Are The Synonyms Of Referendum?
The most used synonyms of referendum are public vote, plebiscite, and popular vote.
What Happens In A Referendum?
In a referendum, citizens are given the opportunity to have a direct say in the decisions that affect their lives. The process allows for a greater degree of democracy than is possible through representative government alone.
Referendums are sometimes seen as a way to circumvent the normal political process, but they can also be an important part of the democratic process. They can be used to gauge public opinion on a particular issue or to give the public a direct say in a decision that would normally be made by elected officials.
In the United States, the constitution does not allow referendum at national level. State-level and local referendum is allowed in some states.
How Does A Referendum Work
Referendum has been used in the United States since 1787. Since then, it is been used to decide on things such as whether to admit new states, whether to amend the U.S. Constitution and even whether to change the name of a state.
But how do referendum work?
There is no uniform process for a referendum, as the rules vary from country to country. However, there are some common steps that are typically involved. These are:
1. A referendum is proposed by the government or by a petition of the people.
2. The proposal is debated in parliament and may be amended before a vote is taken.
3. If the proposal is approved, a date is set for the referendum to take place.
4. The referendum question is published and campaigning begins.
5. On the day of the referendum, people vote and the results are counted.
6. If a majority of people vote in favor of the proposal, it is passed into law.