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The Usage Government-Initiated Referendums in Latin America. Towards a Theory of Referendum Causes

El uso de los referendos de iniciativa gubernamental en AmГ©rica Latina. Hacia una teorГ­a sobre las causas del uso de votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno


Department of Comparative Politics, University of Cologne

Within the last two years there’s been a large upsurge in the amount of referendums global. The current literature on direct democracy has thus far neglected to explain this sensation by delivering a frequent theory regarding the factors behind referendums. This study that is explorative at undertaking actions toward shutting this space by centering on the particular kind of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) and their use within presidential systems. Utilizing QC A (a case-sensitive technique based in the formal logic of Boolean algebra), this research methodically compares the political opportunity structures of 49 presidential systems from 12 Latin US nations to detect the factors that spurred or obstructed the event of FGIR. It concludes that FGIR are closely connected to high degrees of celebration system fragmentation and split federal government, for example. two facets that have always been considered problematic into the context of presidential systems, while their obstruction is mainly owed to your certain provisions that are constitutional the referendum unit.

Keyword Phrases: Referendums, Latin America, Fragmentation, Direct Democracy.


En las Гєltimas dos dГ©cadas Ma existido alrededor del mundo un considerable aumento en el nГєmero de votaciones populares. No na sabido explicar el fenГіmeno mediante una teorГ­a consistente de las causas de los referendums sin embargo, la literatura existente sobre democracia directa. Este estudio exploratorio busca dar un paso adelante para cerrar esta brecha, enfocГЎndose en los referendum facultativos iniciados por poderes polГ­ticos formales (facultative government-initiated referendums – FGIR) y su uso en los sistemas presidenciales. Utilizando OCA (tГ©cnica basada en lГіgica formal de ГЎlgebra booleanas), este estudio hace una comparaciГіn sistemГЎtica de la estructura de oportunidades polГ­ticas de 49 sistemas presidenciales de 12 paГ­ses de AmГ©rica Latina, para detectar los factores estimulan that is que obstruyen la ocurrencia de FGIR. Se concluye que los FGIR estГЎn fuertemente ligados a altos niveles de fragmentaciГіn partidaria y gobiernos divididos, 2 factores que han sido problemГЎticos en los contextos de sistemas presidenciales. Por su parte, la obstrucciГіn se debe principalmente a provisiones constitucionales especГ­ficas que regulan los dispositivos de las votaciones populares iniciadas por el gobierno.

Palabras Clave: Plebiscito, AmГ©rica Latina, fragmentaciГіn, democracia directa.


The practical application of direct democratic instruments has increased considerably (LeDuc, 2003). 2 This trend has attracted scholarly attention and over recent years, considerable research investigating direct democracy has been published in renowned journals in the field of political science from the 1960s onwards, various nations of the world embraced the idea of direct democracy and over the past two decades. To date this literary works has primarily centered on the 2 nations that many frequently utilize referendums, Switzerland and also the united states of america from the state degree (Ladner and Brandle, 1999; Gerber, 1996; Papadopulos, 2001; Tolbert and Hero, 1996; Vatter and Freitag, 2006), while an inferior amount of publications have actually centered on the wave of referendums entailed in the act of European integration (Hug and Sciarini, 2000; Franklin et ah, 1995). These publications have actually greatly added to the knowledge in connection with impact of referendums on politics as well as on diverse societal aspects. Nevertheless, they usually have perhaps not yet produced a theory that is consistent the factors that cause referendums. The goal of this paper would be to undertake steps that are initial bridging this space.

To a big extent, the ‘boom’ in direct democracy could be credited toward the increased quantity of citizen-initiated referendums and, to a smaller level, mandatory referendums (Morel, 2001) This development is welcomed by advocates of direct democracy who stress the possibility of those tools to foster bottom-up involvement and straight accountability (Barber, 1984; Schmitter, 2000). Nonetheless, on a few occasions, non-mandatory referendums on essential governmental questions have now been initiated by regulating bodies i.e. legislatures or professionals. Such government-initiated referendums, which can be described as plebiscites, 3 a phrase that carries a small negative connotation, mostly retain control of governmental decision-making in the possession of of elected officials.

The occurrence of facultative government-initiated referendums (FGIR) 4 poses a theoretical puzzle (Rahat, 2007) despite contributing little to the overall increase in direct democracy.

Whilst it is understandable that residents will be involved in processes of decision-making when because of the directly to do this, governmental elites’ utilization of direct democratic instruments is harder to grasp. What motivates authorities that are governing start referendums? Why should democratically legitimised representatives voluntarily offer up their monopoly to legislate, redistribute energy downwards, equal themselves with ordinary residents in governmental decision-making, and finally expose themselves into the chance of losing in the ballot box? The main goal of this explorative study is to present possible responses to those concerns.