Referenda and initiatives are hardly considered as democratic devices for a future Europe. Drawing on experimental evidence and empirical findings for Switzerland, the authors argue that direct democracy performs well for the provision of public goods and redistribution as it institutionalizes the political discussion. Communication induces the citizens to transform a public decision into a private choice and to break the politician’s agenda-setting monopoly: relevant alternatives are no longer exogenously given but emerge in a process of deliberation. This process is needed in a European framework if social dilemmas and redistribution problems are to be solved according to the citizens’ preferences.
Bohnet, I., &Frey, B. S. (1994). Direct‐democratic rules: the role of discussion. Kyklos, 47(3), 341-354.