The paper is aimed at studying how direct democracy measures, specifically referendums, are increasingly being used – since Seventies – to address problematic and complex issues, such as immigration. The recent referendums reflect widespread alienation from politics and anger at the governing class. Support for old political parties has withered, while populist, anti-EU parties are gaining ground. Consequently, the debate about referendum should revolve around the question to what extent our democratic systems of representation should be and can be complemented by more direct means of citizen influence. It is obviously in this context that the arguments for or against referenda have to be made and evaluated. Such a debate becomes particularly complex in relation to the EU political trends driven by anti-immigration populist movements.
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