Lead


Lay summary
The proposed project aims at studying systematically the policy effectsof referendums in a cross-national perspective. Focusing on the currentmember countries of the European Union as well as Switzerland and Norwaythe project will assess whether institutions allowing for referendumsmake voters better off or not. To do so the project will collectinformation on the following elements:- policy outcomes in a series of policy areas cross-nationally,relying on the one hand on aggregate measures and on the other oncontent analyses of laws in a set of policy areas;- preferences of voters in the selected policy areas as measured incross-national surveys (e.g., Eurobarometers, World Values Survey,European Values Survey, European Social Survey);- detailed information on the institutional provisions allowing forreferendums and the campaigns.Together these three pieces of information allow for a systematicempirical test of the theoretically derived hypothesis that the presenceof institutions allowing for referendums biases policy outcomes towardthe preferred outcome of the median voter. In addition, we will also testthe hypotheses that this policy effect depends on the exact type ofreferendums possible and that this effect is diminished by thedifficulty to launch a referendum.