The legitimacy of local referendums on municipal amalgamation An instrument for decision-making or consulting citizens?

“Our analysis of the Norwegian cases has shown that the legitimacy of referendums is regarded as high by local political actors. This is, we believe, because referendums are inclusive (in Dahl’s terms). Even though a local referendum only is consultative legally speaking, it is often regarded as binding by political actors – especially if the referendum is held according to standards for democratic decision-making. However, that was not always the case.

The study has also shed light on factors that limit the legitimacy of referendums, both from a normative perspective and in the eyes of political actors. Even though most of the local referendums were held according to the principles of the Election Act, the wording of questions and alternatives on the ballot paper was problematic in several cases. This certainly reduces the democratic legitimacy of these specific referendums. Also other factors, such as low turnout or a close race, may play a similar role.”

B. Folkestad | 2017 | Sociology,