Pure and corrupt forms of referenda. Notes for the assessment of their democratic legitimacy

Authors

  • María Emilia Barreyro

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5347/49.2018.24

Keywords:

referendum, democratic legitimacy, pure and corrupt forms of referenda, oppression

Abstract

This article aims at providing a normative elucidation of the democratic legitimacy of referenda. It will focus on one specific objection against them, namely that they provide a means through which the majority may tyrannize minorities —here translated in terms of a tension between the principle of popular sovereignty and the system of rights— given that it exacerbates popular sovereignty to the detriment of minorities’ rights. Against that objection, I will hold that, if (α) the institutional grammar of the referendum ensures a basic structure of justice, and (β) it is used in a democratic context, then it harmonizes the principle of popular sovereignty and the system of rights, and therefore, it does not constitute a means through which the majority may tyrannize minorities, i.e. it enjoys democratic legitimacy respecting the aspect here considered. If the referendum lacks any of these conditions, it is illegitimate in democratic terms. The former is a pure form of referendum, whereas the latter is a corrupt form of it. 

Published

2018-10-31

How to Cite

Barreyro, M. E. (2018). Pure and corrupt forms of referenda. Notes for the assessment of their democratic legitimacy. Isonomía - Revista De teoría Y filosofía Del Derecho, (49), 71–102. https://doi.org/10.5347/49.2018.24

Issue

Section

Research Articles