Use of Referendums

Put the world to rights here (off-topic discussion)

When should a referendum result be legally binding?

Never
1
17%
At any majority
2
33%
At a majority of 55%
0
No votes
At a majority of 60%
2
33%
At a majority of 2/3
1
17%
 
Total votes: 6

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Metalchemyst
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Use of Referendums

Postby Metalchemyst » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:06 am

I wouldn't want the Brexit chaos to make people think that referendums are a bad idea. I think they are essential to democracy but they should have certain limits.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby bloodofthekings » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:14 am

I think you're asking the wrong question (which, ironically was the problem with the EU referendum).

The issue is not what percentage or ratio is required for the result to be legally binding. The issue is the question needs to be properly framed and actually have had some forethought behind it.

Using the example of the EU referendum, if you are essentially asking the public to choose between maintaining the status quo or changing it which will in turn alter so many elements of day-to-day life, then asking "do you want to stick or twist" doesn't go far enough. Ok, we as a country voted to change things, fine. But then the conversation stopped. Or at least, it became toxic. It became, "you lost, get over it!" etc, etc, without anyone actually raising the question of "ok, you don't want things to stay as they are, you want a change, that's fine, but what do you actually want to happen next?"

It's the absence of this follow-up that has led us into the mess that we are in. We live in a representative/parliamentary democracy. The EU referendum is a prime example of how, if it's not thought through properly, direct democracy can be in complete opposition to this system when given half the chance.

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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Metalchemyst » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:07 pm

bloodofthekings wrote:I think you're asking the wrong question (which, ironically was the problem with the EU referendum).

The issue is not what percentage or ratio is required for the result to be legally binding. The issue is the question needs to be properly framed and actually have had some forethought behind it.
I think both these things are important issues with referendums, and I agree with what you say about the Brexit decision being treated too finally, like a football result. Either a compromise choice should have been worked out before the ref. was held or there should have been a second ref. with a choice between the Withdrawal Agreement and No Deal.

The problem with obeying a simple majority result is that it is likely to be an unstable one - a small % of voters could change their minds after the consequences become clear and then want the result reversed. That's why I think a ref. should only be binding at 55% to 60%, to make a stable decision more probable. Parliament can still decide to implement a lesser majority result, but it doesn't have to.
Last edited by Metalchemyst on Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby houston4044 » Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:29 am

bloodofthekings wrote:Using the example of the EU referendum, if you are essentially asking the public to choose between maintaining the status quo or changing it....."ok, you don't want things to stay as they are, you want a change, that's fine, but what do you actually want to happen next?"...It's the absence of this follow-up that has led us into the mess that we are in.


I think that's been the main problem with the Brexit referendum, you need to be very succinct with what the options mean; otherwise you end up where we are with different groups pushing different ideas of what "the will of the people" meant (or in the case of some politicians *coughGoveFaragecough* changing their position post result).

Effectively no one will compromise because their option is still legitimate (soft vs hard brexit) because the referendum never specified how leave was to be achieved.

I'm not a fan of percentage floors as it acts as a barrier political involvement. Given how low turnout is anyway, it will only act as a further deterrent to people getting involved ("why should I bother voting as not enough people will anyway").

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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Haldamir319 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:23 am

Referendums should, broadly speaking, (virtually) never be binding. It's rare that a population is clued up enough on a subject and its nuances to be able accurately decide what they want and is best for them. Effectively, they are giant opinion polls and nothing more.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby WorMzy » Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:59 am

You could make the same arguments about elections. Especially with the shitty system we have where tactical voting is actively encouraged.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Metalchemyst » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:49 pm

WorMzy wrote:You could make the same arguments about elections. Especially with the shitty system we have where tactical voting is actively encouraged.
Yeah. If the public are trusted to choose between long and complex election manifestos then they should be trusted on virtually any referendum question. Many MPs would argue that voters just choose a representative, but in that case maybe each candidate should undergo a public psychological assessment.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby varangian » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:14 pm

Referendum on the royal family and all current MP`s?

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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Cassius » Sat Sep 14, 2019 3:20 pm

Im in favour of more referendums but on things that are just a matter of opinion not technical matters

So for example I think gay marriage would have been legalised much earlier if we had put it to referendum and that would be suitable as it was just a matter of "do you think this is right or wrong". Drug legalisation is another more current matter which would be well suited to referendum as its just a matter of which drugs the public think are morally right/wrong

I dont think there should be referendums on stuff like Brexit because its so incredibly technically complex that you need to be an expert/professional in that area to understand the consequences of the vote. I spent fucking ages researching it before the vote but I still only scratched the surface of the true ramifications of it and so I wasnt really qualified to answer that question. This is why we have a representative democracy in the first place after all
Last edited by Cassius on Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Black Wizard » Sat Sep 14, 2019 4:03 pm

Isn't it "referenda"?

I will abstain from the poll, as my opinion can't be categorized into any if the options.

I think that the principle of having a referendum on our membership of the EU was absolutely fine. I have very eurosceptic tendencies but voted to remain as we didn't know enough about what the future would be like after leaving. I saw this shitshow coming and I'm surprised that not enough people had the same foresight as me.

David Cameron was right to ask the question, but he went about it in the wrong way. Most people in the UK hadn't been asked what their opinion on EU membership was so it was correct to find out what people wanted, but the referendum came too quickly and appeared to be primarily a way of satisfying anti-EU Conservative MPs.

I think Dave's 2015 campaign should have been based on discussing the nature of the UK's role in and relationship with the EU with a view to moving towards a referendum if parliament felt it would be required. There should have been an open discussion with the public, within parliament and with the EU about the current state of the EU and what the future held. It would perhaps have been preferable to find out from the EU what leaving would entail before asking the public a binary question without providing sufficient information.

Once the country emerges from this chaos and when he have a stable government - which I reckon will be some time in the future, after multiple general elections - maybe there will be some legislation setting out correct conduct for calling referenda/referendums. Or perhaps I'm asking for too much.

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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Tet » Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:05 pm

Haldamir319 wrote:Referendums should, broadly speaking, (virtually) never be binding.

Legally binding or not, it's virtually impossible for a government to press ahead with a policy when the majority has voted for something else. Cameron could have said "yeah, but it was only advisory - we'll stay in the EU". However, blatantly ignoring the wishes of the public like that was never going to get far. Whether the result was legally binding or not is of little consequence.
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Haldamir319 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:31 pm

Tet wrote:
Haldamir319 wrote:Referendums should, broadly speaking, (virtually) never be binding.

Legally binding or not, it's virtually impossible for a government to press ahead with a policy when the majority has voted for something else. Cameron could have said "yeah, but it was only advisory - we'll stay in the EU". However, blatantly ignoring the wishes of the public like that was never going to get far. Whether the result was legally binding or not is of little consequence.


If the Tories hadn't made a massive point of saying that they were going to implement it, then he could have easily used it more simply as a bargaining tool for further renegotiations. The problem was that they/Cameron were so arrogant about the entire thing that they never expected to lose.

Also, a small point but, if it were legally binding then it would have likely been ruled null and void due to the dishonesty of the leave campgain - in fact, the electoral comission said as much, stating that they couldn't overturn the ref result because "it was only advisory".
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Metalchemyst » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:09 pm

Black Wizard wrote:Isn't it "referenda"?
Technically, it appears not (though I personally don't mind):
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/07/why ... ferendums/
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby Metalchemyst » Sat Sep 21, 2019 3:14 pm

Tet wrote:
Haldamir319 wrote:Referendums should, broadly speaking, (virtually) never be binding.

Legally binding or not, it's virtually impossible for a government to press ahead with a policy when the majority has voted for something else. Cameron could have said "yeah, but it was only advisory - we'll stay in the EU". However, blatantly ignoring the wishes of the public like that was never going to get far. Whether the result was legally binding or not is of little consequence.
Suppose the voting paper had said: "This is an advisory referendum and Parliament will make the final decision." or "The UK will leave the EU if the result for 'Yes' is 55% or more." ?
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Re: Use of Referendums

Postby metaldinosaur » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:43 pm

Metalchemyst wrote:
Black Wizard wrote:Isn't it "referenda"?
Technically, it appears not (though I personally don't mind):
https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/07/why ... ferendums/


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