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Challenging the common assumption that models of direct democracy and representative democracy are necessarily at odds, Direct Democracy Worldwide demonstrates how practices of direct and representative democracy interact under different institutional settings and uncovers the conditions that allow them to coexist in a mutually reinforcing manner. Whereas citizen-initiated mechanisms of direct democracy can spur productive relationships between citizens and political parties, other mechanisms of direct democracy often help leaders bypass other representative institutions, undermining republican checks and balances. The book also demonstrates that the embrace of direct democracy is costly, may generate uncertainties and inconsistencies, and in some cases is easily manipulated. Nonetheless, the promise of direct democracy should not be dismissed. Direct democracy is much more than a simple, pragmatic second choice when representative democracy seems not to be working as expected. Properly designed, it can empower citizens, breaking through some of the institutionalized barriers to accountability that arise in representative systems.Read more
- The first book to identify and explain the reasons behind uses of mechanisms of direct democracy from a worldwide perspective
- A comparative analysis on the uses of direct democracy across different regime types and levels of democracy
- Uses a number of different research methodologies, draws on structured and semi-structured interviews, and conducts formal tests of theory using negative binomials, King's 'Ecological Inference', multivariate regression and path analysis
- Offers contextualized confirmations of theory through Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA)
Reviews & endorsements
"David Altman illuminates the world of democracy beyond the election of representatives and offers an empirical analysis of global scope that challenges the widespread view that representative and direct democracy are necessarily incompatible forms of democracy. Indeed, no one does a better job than Altman at walking us through the conceptually complicated issues associated with the variety of possible mechanisms of direct democracy and submitting arguments about direct democracy to a thorough empirical testing. And the overall result is a fresh look at the old questions of representation and governance. Direct Democracy Worldwide should be read by anyone who is unsatisfied with a Dahlian conception of democracy and who wants to understand how responsible citizen participation can - and should - be encouraged."
Gerardo L. Munck, University of Southern CaliforniaSee more reviews
"This book offers a new, original comparative analysis of direct democracy. In doing so, it reshapes the debate on the interactions between representative and direct democracy in the contemporary world, and at the same time demystifies the most recurrent apprehensions regarding this interface by taking the reader to places where neither the advocates nor the opponents of direct democracy want to go. Everyone interested in such a classic topic should read the book and accept to have her own ideas changed by it."
Leonardo Morlino, Instituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, and President, International Political Science Association
"An incisive, measured, and richly informed analysis of uses and abuses of mechanisms of direct democracy. As the authoritative treatment of this theoretically and politically important topic, Altman's book is as indispensable contribution to democratic theory."
Adam Przeworski, New York University
"Direct Democracy Worldwide by David Altman offers a vitally insightful perspective on direct democracy. Altman's dichotomy of plebiscites into 'bottom up' initiatives that strengthen citizens' control over policy and 'top down' mechanisms that often serve as little more than expressions of authoritarian power sets the research agenda on direct democracy for decades to come. The book combines cross national analysis of direct democracy with case studies, featuring especially the emblematic case of Uruguay. It will serve as a useful introduction to the comparative study of direct democracy for graduate students, and for advanced undergraduates. It also presents important research results that corroborate Altman’s dichotomy of direct democratic institutions. One only hopes that policy makers will carefully attend to this important work."
John Londregan, Princeton University
"Altman's book is comprehensive, erudite and at times as fascinating as a thriller … [It] is rich on detail and anecdotes … Too few political scientists use the techniques of critical journalists. Altman is an exception, and his book is all the better for it."
Matt Qvortrup, Political Studies Review
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- Date Published: November 2014
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107427099
- length: 266 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 155 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.43kg
- contains: 19 b/w illus. 2 maps 17 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Direct democracy at the turn of the century
2. Terms of the debate surrounding direct democracy
3. Myths and facts behind the use of mechanisms of direct democracy: a worldwide analysis
4. Direct democracy within non-democratic regimes
5. Direct democracy within weak democracies: some cases from Latin America
6. Direct democracy within democracies: the case of Uruguay (historic evolution, and voting behavior)
7. Uruguayan citizen-initiated mechanisms of direct democracy as agents of vertical accountability
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