What is a referendum:

Referendums are a public voting system through which the whole electorate participates in decision making on a particular policy through voting.

Advantages of referendums:

  • It can be said that referendums are a direct form of democracy. As the people directly participate in the decision making, avoiding any manipulation by their representatives.
  • It can educate citizens politically.
  • It forces governments to do what the people actually want.
  • The common man has a say in the policy making as he will be the one living under the new set of rules, he will be the one who will be most affected. So, at times the priorities of people are different from the priorities of the government, referendums can set things straight.

Disadvantages of referendums:

  • Referendums at times can lead to ill-informed decisions. Since the general public is politically inexperienced, they may not be able to gauge the long-term implications of their decisions.
  • It weakens the sovereignty of the parliament, where the decisions are made with thorough discussions and debate among the chosen representatives.
  • Provides an unreliable view, as the general public may have less knowledge about certain issues so they can be swayed in any direction by the politicians through aggressive speeches, false data etc. And the lack of knowledge will leave no other choice for the people than to believe those facts.

Conclusion:

Though referendums can be referred to as the direct form of democracy, but it generally lacks knowledge and experience. For instance, it takes the opinion of a doctor on an issue related to foreign affairs or economics, which definitely will be ill-informed. It may strengthen democracy but may weaken the country.

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