Direct Democracy

Direct democracy instruments – as a complement to elections – are playing an increasingly important role across the globe in involving citizens in the political process. Modern direct democracy is characterised by three pillars; referendums (initiated by governments or legislatures or by citizens responding to legislation), initiatives (initiated by citizens) and recall votes (on holders of public office).

As the use of referendums, initiatives and recalls has grown significantly in recent years at both the national and sub-national levels, it is essential to explore this field further.

Therefore, IDEA and its partners are currently conducting a global survey on the practice of direct democracy worldwide. The survey aims at collecting data on laws and regulations regarding the instruments of direct democracy to raise awareness about direct democratic processes worldwide. It will form the basis of a database with comparative information on direct democratic procedures for legislators and institutional designers and other stakeholders involved in strengthening and reforming electoral processes and systems.

IDEA also plans to publish a Handbook in 2007 on direct democracy worldwide, based on the data from the global survey. It will include in-depth studies of several country specific procedures, as well as a comparative table of data on the worldwide practice of direct democracy. This Handbook will be useful for policy-makers, administrators, campaigners, political parties, and academics alike.


Initiative and Referendum Institute:

C2D - Research and Documentation Centre on Direct Democracy:

Ballot Initiative Strategy Centre:

Canadian referendum law and analysis:

Democracy International, the organisation campaigning for a referendum on the new EU constitution:

Contact: Virginia Beramendi Heine v.beramendi-heine@idea.int 

International IDEA
Tel: +46 8 698 37 00, Fax: +46 8 20 24 22
E-mail: info@idea.int
International IDEA, Strömsborg, SE-103 34 Stockholm, Sweden

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