Referendum; A law for submission of

proposed legislation to a popular vote to

learn the consensus of public opinion.

–The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

One of the simplest manifestations of a democratic system is displayed through the existence of referendums. It is a simple procedure through which the will of the people can be heard and a direct result of their decision can be seen through the implementation of a policy or law they either voted for or against, unlike presidential elections where they vote for a candidate who would go on to establishing legislation independently.

It can be argued, however, that referendums give an illusion of a democratic system by which the public would be content. This is due to the fact that referendums are not legally binding and can be over turned by the Parliament which violates not only the purpose of the referendum in the first place but disregards the general view of the public along with passing a value judgement on their decision. An example being the referendum held in the Britain regarding its exit from the European Union which is still held up in parliament thus leading to speculation of the Brexit actually never happening.

Governments may also only call for referendums if they are sure about their victory like in the case of the Hungarian population denying the acceptance of refugees from Syria through the EU referendum that was held. The decision strengthened the hold of power and influence of the right-wing Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

Assuming power was really in the hands of the people, due to the nature of human subjectivity and the understanding of the implications of, a law a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer is not appropriate and may not let the actual opinion of the public come forward. Then the entire idea then becomes more about numerical values rather than actual urgent law-making by the people which is not holding it true to its essence.