Headlines: February 9th, 2007



A system of citizen-led referendums could be the way to re-engage a disillusioned electorate according to a new pamphlet published today by the think-tank the Centre for Policy Studies. “Supply Side Politics” says Citizen Initiatives could improve not just turnout but the quality of political decision making.

The author, Professor Matt Qvortrup, who is described as Britain’s leading expert on referendums, says that that giving people a greater supply of politics, or democracy, could help reinvigorate democracy by giving voters real influence over issues that affect their lives. He argues that just as supply side economics in the 1980s demonstrated that ‘a supply creates its own demand, supply side politics in the form of the Citizens’ Initiative could help to re-engage people’s interest in the political process.

Professor Qvortrup says the Citizen Initiative is already an integral part of political life in Switzerland and America, where it is used in 24 states. He says this form of direct democracy has been introduced more recently in other countries, notably some of the new democracies in Eastern Europe. Important issues such as tax reductions, education policy, healthcare reform and the environment have all been put to public ballots. The pamphlet says that evidence indicates that the system does not lead to populist and ill-considered legislation.

In a foreword to the pamphlet Saira Khan, who chairs OURSAY, the campaign for Citizens’ Initiatives, says, “The use of Initiatives leads to greater participation and interest in politics and could therefore be an important step in restoring faith in British democracy