Towards more deliberative referendums? The attractions of the justified vote

Special report: Referendums: In the name of democracy?
By Pierre-Étienne Vandamme

Referendums are often condemned for their poor deliberative record. In stark opposition to the “unforced force of the better argument” guiding the deliberative ideal, votes are the result of a balance of power: the law of the greater number. Voting secrecy also disincentivizes deliberation. This article puts forward a new practice—the justified vote—likely to make voting and referendums more deliberative through fostering a deliberative attitude in the voting booth and stimulating public debate. Combined with mini-publics, it opens up new prospects for democratic participation through referendums.


  • referendum
  • deliberations
  • participation
  • secrecy
  • justifications
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