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Darin David Barney and David Laycock, "Right-Populists and Plebiscitary Politics in Canada," Party Politics, 5 (July 1999), 317-339.

First Paragraph:
The Reform Party of Canada's use and promotion of direct democracy is one of more than a dozen cases explored at the 1997 ECPR workshop on Political Parties and Plebiscitary Politics. Established a decade ago but already Canada's official parliamentary opposition, Reform has growing and influential company in western party systems as a right-populist, anti-statist party interested in the popular appeal and potential anti-party clout of direct democracy. In this paper, we demonstrate how a critical appraisal of the Reform Party's plebiscitarianism contributes to understanding the politics of direct democracy. On first encounter, Reform's interest in direct democracy might be accounted for in terms of their members' desire to democratize Canadian public life. More cynically, one might focus on their leaders' desire to capitalize electorally on growing levels of citizen dissatis-faction with existing representative politics.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Plebiscitarian political space

Last Paragraph:
This latter scenario is far from improbable in many western polities. For reasons we hope to have suggestively sketched, this scenario also provides a congenial opening for plebiscitarian responses to citizen alienation. Our theoretical location of plebiscitarianism within democratic representational space suggests that the primary suppliers of plebiscitarian alternatives will be leader-dominated parties of the new right, offering opportunities for unmediated and non-deliberative approaches to policy choice. These choices will revolve principally around defections from supporting the public goods of the welfare state, and from the democratic associational and representative networks that sustain these goods. Insofar as the experience of the Reform Party of Canada testifies to links between plebiscitarianism and the socio-political project of the new right, we believe it holds instructive lessons for those wishing to explain the appeal of direct democracy to right-populist parties-- and voters-- in many liberal democracies.