Direct Democratic Choice

Direct Democratic Choice : The Swiss Experience

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Direct Democratic Choice sets out to understand how the citizens actually decide in direct-democratic votes. Author Hanspeter Kriesi has analyzed nearly twenty years of post-election surveys in Switzerland (1981-1999), which he has contextualized according to the various political issues and the relevant arguments provided by the political elites. This book's core argument is that the citizens who participate in direct-democratic votes make competent choices. Kriesi provides strong support for an optimistic view of direct-democratic decision-making but also indicates that this process, wherever it occurs, can be improved by proper institutional design and by appropriate strategies enacted by the political elite.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 252 pages
  • 152 x 230 x 28mm | 557.93g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739109650
  • 9780739109656

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: Toward a Realistic Theory of Direct Democracy Chapter 2 The Structuration of the Choice Chapter 3 The Campaign: The Role of the Political Elite Chapter 4 Political Awareness Chapter 5 Participation Chapter 6 Heuristic Strategies Chapter 7 Argument-Based Strategies Chapter 8 The Relative Importance of the Two Strategies Chapter 9 Conclusion
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Review quote

A fascinating book based on an original data set by a leading scholar on Swiss democracy. Well worth reading. -- Bruno S. Frey, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich "Democracy has to be re-invented if it is to remain democratic." That is an oft-heard slogan these days. Ironically, Hanspeter Kriesi demonstrates that there is a lot that potential re-inventors can learn from one of the world's most archaic democracies: Switzerland. Anyone with more than a passing interest in direct, participatory, or deliberative democracy should read this definitive (and sobering) study. -- Philippe C. Schmitter, Professor Emeritus, European University Institute Direct Democratic Choice offers a solid, systematic assessment of the voters' choices in votes on referendums and initiatives. In a both theoretically and empirically innovative way Hanspeter Kriesi demonstrates that voters may very well decide competently in such direct democratic choices. While focusing on the Swiss experience, given its broad-reaching theoretical argument and its thorough empirical investigation, the book is a must-read for any student of voting behavior in referendum and initiative campaigns, as well as for any serious scholar interested in possible future developments of democracy. -- Simon Hug, Institut fur Politikwissenschaft, Universitat St. Gallen Switzerland might almost be said to be the inventor of direct democracy in the modern world. It is certainly the country which makes most extensive use of it in the modern world. In this splendidly thorough and direct book, Hanspeter Kriesi confronts three crucial questions about the capacity of ordinary citizens to vote on policy: decisions are too complex for them: participation is too low: they are exploited by demagogues. Using an unparalleled collection of aggregate and individual data Kriesi shows that none of these criticisms are true for the Swiss case or, by extension, in general. Importantly for present debates, he also demonstrates that the institutional and party input to voting decisions is crucial, and that most citizens rely on arguments rather than party or other cues to take a decision. This is an important book for all interested in direct democracy to buy and read. Its impressive weight of evidence on the workings of policy elections renders it uniquely authoritative. -- Ian Budge, University of Essex
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About Hanspeter Kriesi

Hanspeter Kriesi is Director of the Center for Comparative and International Studies, University of Zurich.
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