To many people, direct democracy can mean different things. Some picture the classical/pre-modern (Athens) style of direct democracy where citizens meet in the town square and decide on important issues. Others see it as an opportunity to rid the world of devious self-serving politicians, where we can all sit at home and make all necessary political decisions via our laptops. Whatever it means to you, direct democracy has certainly become a much discussed topic over the last twenty or so years even though it has had numerous critics.
Direct democracy would appear to offer citizens more control over controversial and polarizing issues that directly affect their lives. That is not to say that direct democracy is a replacement for representative democracy, only that it can be an adjunct to it. One definition has direct democracy as, “A form of state in which the sovereign power is held by the People, i.e., national sovereignty belongs directly to the People. The People also exercise their sovereignty directly, for example by means of popular legislation.”. My own definition would be: the right of citizens to initiate referendums on any issue, to veto legislation, and for these decisions to be binding on parliament.
There are a number of parts to direct democracy: general elections, citizens' initiatives, referendums, recalls, and plebiscites. A lot of misunderstanding and confusion could be avoided if these issues were all clearly distinguished from one another, along with their procedures. Of course, there are also many forms of election systems but these will not be discussed here.