Preferences for Referenda: Intrinsic or Instrumental? Evidence from a Survey Experiment

Published on 2019-10-16T12:07:37Z (GMT) by
<div><p>The call for more direct democracy, and referenda in particular, is often heard and met with support from large numbers of citizens in many countries. This article explores the motives for supporting referenda: Do citizens support them for intrinsic reasons, because referenda allow them to exercise their democratic rights more directly? Or are preferences for referenda predominantly based on the expectation that they will produce desired policy outcomes and thus instrumentally motivated? Our survey experiment explores such instrumental preferences by assessing how substantial policy preferences affect individuals’ choice of referenda over alternative decision-making procedures. We show that congruence between a respondent’s own opinion and the expected majority opinion is associated with support for a referendum on a given matter, and thus arrive at the conclusion that calls for referenda should be reassessed in light of the partly instrumental character of procedural preferences.</p></div>

Cite this collection

Landwehr, Claudia; Harms, Philipp (2019): Preferences for Referenda: Intrinsic or Instrumental? Evidence from a Survey Experiment. SAGE Journals. Collection. https://doi.org/10.25384/SAGE.c.4700198.v1