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Todd Donovan and Jeffrey A. Karp , "Popular Support for Direct Democracy," Party Politics, 12 (September, 2006), 671-688.

First Paragraph:
The use of direct democracy at the national and sub-national level has expanded substantially since 1970 in many established democracies. This expansion has taken the form of more frequent direct election of local officials, greater popular influence over party affairs and greater use of local and national referendums (Scarrow, 2001). Although representative democracy has not been supplanted by direct democracy, the texture of representative democracy is changing as citizens assume a more direct role in affecting parties and government. In this article, we use public opinion data to examine support for the use of the referendum and initiative in order to better understand which citizens might embrace reforms that expand direct democracy.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Support for direct democracy in six nations
Table 2. Cognitive mobilization model: logit coefficients
Table 3. Disaffection model: logit coefficients
Table 4. Probability estimates of supporting direct democracy

First Paragraph of Conclusion:
When examined through the lens of multivariate analysis across a range of nations, we find that any understanding of mass support for direct democracy is likely to be more complex - and perhaps less threatening to democracy - than that described by Dalton et al. (2001). Support for direct democracy, at least in some limited forms, is consistently high across a wide range of countries. Neither the cognitive mobilization theory nor the political disaffection theory explains much of the variance in levels of support we find in the six nations examined here. This suggests that attitudes about direct democracy are rather diffuse, reflecting a general tendency to support such devices that is shared across a broad segment of the electorate, rather than something particular to those peripheral to politics.

last updated February 2007