Can Direct Democracy Be Made Deliberative?

14 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2006

See all articles by Ethan J. Leib

Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law


Every election cycle a great number of citizens take to the polls to vote on public policy matters directly. Direct democracy has problems. And an account of deliberative democracy — far from being a source to critique direct democracy — might provide a solution.

I have three goals in this short Essay. First, I hope to identify some problems with the mechanisms of direct democracy that most states and many cities throughout the country employ: the initiative and the referendum. Next, I will offer a potential solution to these institutional problems using aspects of the theory of deliberative democracy, a theory often marshaled to undermine direct democracy. Finally, I will spell out why this design project should be of especial interest to lawyers.

Suggested Citation

Leib, Ethan J., Can Direct Democracy Be Made Deliberative?. Buffalo Law Review, Vol. 54, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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