The Political Effects of Referendums
A Systematic Cross-national Study1

Simon Hug2
CIS, IPZ, Universität Zürich

Research funded by the FNRS (Grant No. 100012-108179)


The proposed project aims at studying systematically the policy effects of referendums in a cross-national perspective. Focusing on the current member countries of the European Union as well as Switzerland and Norway the project will assess whether institutions allowing for referendums make voters better off or not. To do so the project will collect information on the following elements:

Together these three pieces of information allow for a systematic empirical test of the theoretically derived hypothesis that the presence of institutions allowing for referendums biases policy outcomes toward the preferred outcome of the median voter. In addition, we will also test the hypotheses that this policy effect depends on the exact type of referendums possible and that this effect is diminished by the difficulty to launch a referendum.


Working Papers


1  I gratefully acknowledge the preparatory work by Ladina Caluori, Thomas Christin, David McCoy and Silika Tereschenko in putting together this research proposal.

2  Center for Comparative and International Studies, Institut für Politikwissenschaft; Universität Zürich; Hirschengraben 56; 8001 Zürich; Switzerland; phone +41 (0)44 634 50 90/1; fax: +41 (0)44 634 50 98; email:

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On 1 Sep 2005, 07:55.