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Are referendums good for democracy?

No—they bypass the procedures designed to optimise decision-making

By AC Grayling  

Vote leave supporters in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, in the run-up to the referendum on 23rd June ©Nick Ansell/PA Archive/PA Images

If you live in a small ancient Greek city with restrictions on who can take part in the political process, referendums are pretty well your only governmental decision-making resource.

But if you live in a populous, diverse and complex society, you do far better to avoid referendums, and instead to devise a representative democracy in which people are elected to act on the populace’s behalf by getting information, deliberating, discussing,…

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