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Wednesday, 19 July 2017



A referendum or plebiscite or referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to vote on a particular proposal.

By Rama - Own work,  Wikipedia

Australia defines 'referendum' as a vote to change the constitution and 'plebiscite' as a vote that does not affect the constitution.

In 1998,UK Conservative MP Alan Clark asked the House of Commons Speaker for a ruling on whether the plural of 'referendum' was 'referendums' or 'referenda'. The Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, ruled that it is "all a matter of taste".

The Latin 'referendum' (plural: referenda) means the question that is being referred to the voters. However, its change of meaning in English to refer to a voting procedure justifies the use of the English plural word of referendums.


Critics of the referendum argue that the electorate are likely not to be sufficiently informed to make decisions on complicated or technical issues.

Pro-Russian protesters in Ukraine, demanding a referendum, By HOBOPOCC 

Both Ancient Greek Philosopher Plato and United States Founding Father James Madison thought voters are too easily persuaded by their own internal feelings of a matter instead of focusing on the good of the nation. That is to say they vote selfishly.


Britain's first referendum took place in 1920. The result was the people in Scotland voted for the limited application of alcohol prohibition.

On March 29, 1936, Adolf Hitler received 99% of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany's illegal reoccupation of the Rhineland, receiving 44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters.

In a  June 2, 1946 referendum, Italians voted to turn Italy from a monarchy into a Republic. It was the first time that the country's women were able to vote.

The State of Vietnam referendum held on October 23, 1955 determined the future governmental form of the nation that was to become South Vietnam. It was contested by Prime Minister Ngô Đinh Diệm, who proposed a republic, and former emperor Bảo Đại, the head of state.

Diệm won the election, which was widely marred by electoral fraud, with 98.2% of the vote. In the capital Saigon, Diệm was credited with more than 600,000 votes, although only 450,000 people were on the electoral roll. He accumulated tallies in excess of 90% of the registered voters, even in rural regions where opposition groups prevented voting.

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In a 1967 referendum in Gibraltar on whether to remain British, 99.64 per cent voted in favor.

On June 5, 1975, the UK held its first referendum on the question of whether the country should continue to be a member of the European Economic Community.  The electorate voted by a majority of more than two to one (17,378,581 votes to 8,470,073) to stay in.

In 1977, voters in an Australian referendum were asked to choose their national anthem from a list of four songs. "Advance Australia Fair" won but Australian Capital Territory voted for "Waltzing Matilda."

In 1973, Greenland joined the European Economic Community with Denmark. However, in a referendum in 1982, a majority of the population voted for Greenland to withdraw from the EEC, which was effected three years later.

A status referendum was held in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on April 6, 1984. All 261 registered voters participated in the vote, with 88% voting for integration with Australia. The referendum has been described as the "smallest act of self-determination ever conducted."

Cocos (Keeling) Islands,. By ja:利用者:MUK - ja

In 1989, a referendum in Uruguay voted for an increase in pensioners’ incomes.

The Georgian independence referendum took place on March 31, 1991: nearly 99 percent of the voters supported the country's independence from the Soviet Union. Ten days later, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared independence.

In 1993, San Francisco held a referendum over whether a policeman could patrol with a ventriloquist's dummy called Brendan O'Smarty. The voters agreed that he could.

In a 1995 referendum, 50.58 percent of the Quebec population supported the province of Quebec remaining a part of Canada, narrowly averting sovereignty.

In 1995, Ireland voted, by the narrow margin of 50.3 per cent to 49.7 per cent, to legalize divorce.

On Thursday June 23, 2016 the United Kingdom voted for the second time in 41 years on its membership to what is now known as the European Union (EU). The "Leave" option was voted by 52% of voters, as opposed to 48% of voters who wished to "Remain."


UK's European Union Referendum Act 2015 contains 26,678 words, making it slightly longer than Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Since 1911, New Zealand has held 38 national referendums, of which 26 have been about alcohol. In 1949 and 1967, New Zealand had referendums on pub closing times.

In 1949, New Zealand voted on whether to allow off-course betting: 68 per cent voted in favor.

Source Daily Express

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