Yes and No: The problem of bad referendums
From Brexit to Turkey, the use of referendums is on the rise around the world. They're seen as a way of getting politicians and experts out of the way to let 'the people' decide on major policy decisions, and making democracy work more directly. Leah Trueblood is a PhD student at Oxford University. She warns that ill-conceived referendums are actually dangerous for democracies. This episode is the latest in our series Ideas from the Trenches, showcasing innovative work of PhD students across the country.
"What worries me about referendums as devices of direct democracy is the idea that votes can solve problems. Votes can't do that." — Leah Trueblood, D. Phil at Oxford University.
Britain's 'Brexit' and Turkey's referendum on increasing the power of its president are two examples of bad referendums, according to Trueblood.
When and how can we trust 'the people' with big policy decisions, where the consequences can be so great, and understanding the issues can be so difficult?
Guests in the program:
- Leah Trueblood — D.Phil (Doctor of Philosophy) student at Oxford University. She's also a Trudeau Scholar.
- Jason Brennan — professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at Georgetown University and author of Against Democracy and The Ethics of Voting.
- Selcuk Unal — Turkey's Ambassador to Canada.
- Ahmet Erdi Öztürk — Turkish scholar. He's finishing his PhD in the the Faculty of Law, Social Science and History at the University of Strasbourg.
**Ideas from the Trenches is produced by Nicola Luksic and Tom Howell.