The Rise of Referendums: Elite Strategy or Populist Weapon?

July 2017

Political elites once held referendums to fend off challenges to European integration. More recently, Euroskeptic parties have employed referendums to batter down the walls of elite consensus. But the spread of referendums threatens to undermine the legitimacy of representative democracy.

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The Rise of Referendums: Demystifying Direct Democracy

July 2017

Plebiscites have grown less common in recent decades in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries, even as the use of referendums in democracies has expanded. Despite their many shortcomings, referendums are, on balance, a mechanism for strengthening democracy.

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Tanzania: Shrinking Space and Opposition Protest

July 2017

Since Tanzania’s 2015 elections, rising repression and opposition protest have displaced an older dynamic of comparatively restrained and unchallenged dominance by the ruling party. 

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Turkmenistan: Grasping for Legitimacy

July 2017

Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov attempted to use sham democratic elections in February 2017 to bolster his legitimacy both at home and abroad. 

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