One problem with referenda is the forced choice: In a referendum I am given options that may not reflect the relevant choice. In the first Icesave referendum this was clearly the case: Parliament allows the government to sign an agreement given that a certain debt to the British and the Dutch is to be paid. The president refuses to sign the bill, thereby sending it to a national referendum. Before the referendum is held, the British and the Dutch offer a new agreement, better than the one to be voted on. The options in the referendum therefore are rendered meaningless. The outcome of the referendum will not affect the situation. Why then not abandon the referendum? Because opponents of the government want it to become a way to force the government to resign. But why should I be forced to express whatever I think about the government obliquely in this way? The referendum has thus gained certain elements of „Volksabstimmung“ – it is an opportunity to express something rather than an opportunity to make a choice.
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