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A.V. Dicey: the referendum as the people's veto

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Referenda have traditionally been anathema to Liberal theorists. On the basis of previously unpublished material it is suggested that the English constitutional theorist Albert Venn Dicey succeeded in developing an argument for a limited use of the referendum within the Liberal tradition. It is argued that Dicey's theory of the referendum can be seen as a part of a comprehensive theory of democracy which included considerations on political education. Dicey's theory is not only one of the few examples of a political theory of the referendum, it also shows that Dicey was a prominent democratic theorist.

Keywords: Constitutionalism; Dicey; Direct Democracy; Liberalism; Referenda; Referendums; Representative Government; Veto

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Brasenose College, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 4AJ.

Publication date: March 1, 1999


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