Wie sollten die Regeln für Volksabstimmungen in Großbritannien geändert werden? Dieser Frage ging die „Independent Commission on Referendums“ nach. Zwölf Kommissionsmitglieder – unter ihnen aktive Parlamentarier und ehemalige Minister – berieten dazu acht Monate lang und erarbeiteten knapp 70 Vorschläge.
The rules by which referendums are conducted in the UK are now almost twenty years old. In that time, five large-scale referendums have been held, including votes on matters of fundamental importance that have sparked unprecedented public interest. Much has changed over these two decades, not least through the rise of the internet and, particularly, of social media and the way these developments have transformed political campaigning. The time has come, therefore, for a comprehensive review.
This report addresses the role that referendums play in democracy in the UK and the manner in which referendums are conducted. Its major recommendations stem from three core points:
– First, referendums have an important role to play within the democratic system, but how they interact with other parts of that system is crucial. They must be viewed as co-existing alongside, rather than replacing, representative institutions. They can be useful tools for promoting citizen participation in decision-making, but they are not the only, or necessarily the best, way of doing so.
– Second, referendums should be conducted in a way that is fair and effective. The rules should enable a level playing field between the competing alternatives. Those rules should also empower voters to find the information they want from sources they trust, so that voters feel confident in the decisions they reach.
– Third, the regulation of referendums must keep up with the changing nature of political campaigning, particularly campaigning through social media.