), ballot question
, or plebiscite
(from Latin plebiscita
, originally a decree of the Concilium Plebis
) is a direct vote
in which an entire electorate
is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution
, a constitutional amendment
, a law
, the recall
of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. The referendum or plebiscite is a form of direct democracy
ideally favoring the majority.
are both commonly used as plurals of the referendum factor. However, the use of referenda
is deprecated by the Oxford English Dictionary
which advises that:
- "Referendums is logically preferable as a plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund, referendum has no plural). The Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning things to be referred, necessarily connotes a plurality of issues."
Procedure and status
In a first classification by necessity, a referendum may be mandatory
, that is, the law (usually the constitution) directs authorities to holding referendums on specific matters (such is the case in amending most constitutions, or impeaching heads of state as well as ratifying international treaties) and are usually binding. A referendum can also be facultative
, that is it can be initiated at the will of a public authority (President of the Republic in France and Romania or the Government/Parliament in Greece or Spain) or at the will of the citizens (a petition). It can be binding or non-binding.
A foundational referendum or plebiscite may be drafted by a constituent assembly before being put to voters. In other circumstances a referendum is usually initiated either by a legislature or by citizens themselves by means of a petition. The process of initiating a referendum by petition is known as the popular or citizen's initiative. In the United States the term referendum is often reserved for a direct vote initiated by a legislature while a vote originating in a petition of citizens is referred to as an "initiative", "ballot measure" or "proposition."
In countries in which a referendum must be initiated by parliament it is sometimes mandatory to hold a binding referendum on certain proposals, such as constitutional amendments. In countries, such as the United Kingdom, in which referendums are neither mandatory nor binding there may, nonetheless, exist an unwritten convention that certain important constitutional changes will be put to a referendum and that the result will be respected.
By nature of their effects, referendums may be either binding or non-binding. A non-binding referendum is merely consultative or advisory. It is left to the government or legislature to interpret the results of a non-binding referendum and it may even choose to ignore them. This is particularly the case in states which follow Westminster conventions of parliamentary sovereignty. In New Zealand, for example, citizen-initiated referendum (CIR) questions are broad statements of intent, not detailed laws. Following a referendum vote, parliament itself has the sole power to draft, debate and pass enabling legislation if it so chooses, and thus far, New Zealand governments have chosen to ignore completely two of the three proposals which have succeeded in forcing a vote since the CIR device was created in 1993. The third, a series of proposals about criminal justice, prompted some minor reforms only; it too was largely ignored. This -as was recently argued by Matt Qvortrup in his much cited 'Supply-side Politics (Centre for Policy Studies 2007)- has led to a disuse of the New Zealand device. However, a majority of 77 percent of the voters according to the New Zealand Election Study believe that the citizen initiated referendum make the politicians more accountable. Moreover trust in politicians has grown by almost 20 percent since the introduction of the device.
In most referendums it is sufficient for a measure to be approved by a simple majority of voters in order for it to be carried. However, a referendum may also require the support of a super-majority, such as two-thirds of votes cast. In Lithuania certain proposals must be endorsed by a three-quarters majority (among them, any proposal to amend article 148 of the Lithuanian Constitution, which states, "Lithuania is an independent and democratic republic").
In some countries, including Italy, there is also a requirement that there be a certain minimum turn-out of the electorate in order for the result of a referendum to be considered valid. This is intended to ensure that the result is representative of the will of the electorate and is analogous to the quorum required in a committee or legislature.
The franchise in a referendum is not necessarily the same as that for elections. For example, in Ireland only citizens may vote in a constitutional referendum, whereas citizens of the United Kingdom are also entitled to vote in general elections.
Referendums by country
Approval in a referendum is necessary in order to amend the Australian constitution. A bill must first be passed by both houses of Parliament or, in certain limited circumstances, by only one house of Parliament, and is then submitted to a referendum. If a majority of those voting, as well as separate majorities in each of a majority of states, (and where appropriate a majority of people in any affected state) vote in favour of the amendment, it is presented for Royal Assent, given in the Queen's name by the Governor-General. Due to the specific mention of referendums in the Australian constitution, non-constitutional referendums are usually termed plebiscites in Australia.
Referendums are rare in Canada and only three have ever occurred at the federal level. The most recent was a referendum in 1992 on a package of proposed constitutional measures known as the Charlottetown Accord. Although the Constitution of Canada does not expressly require that amendments be approved by referendum, some argue that, in light of the precedent set by the Charlottetown Accord referendum, this may have become a constitutional convention. Referendums can also occur at the provincial level. The 1980 and 1995 refendums on the secession of Québec are notable cases. In conjunction with the provincial election in 2007, the province of Ontario voted on a mixed-member proportional representation electoral system, which was rejected.
There have been three plebiscites and one "consultation" in Chilean history. In 1925, a plebiscite was held over a new constitution which would replace a semi-parliamentary system with a presidential one. The "Yes" vote won overwhelmingly, with 95% of the vote. In 1978, after the United Nations
protested against Pinochet
's régime, the country's military government held a national consultation which asked if people supported Pinochet's rule. The "Yes" vote won with 74%, although the results have been questioned. Another constitutional plebiscite
was held in 1980. The "Yes" won with 68.5%, prolonging Pinochet's term until 1989 and replacing the 1925 Constitution with a new one still used today. The results of this plebiscite have also been questioned by Pinochet's opponents. In a historical plebiscite held in 1988, 56% voted to end the military régime. The next year, yet another plebiscite was held for constitutional changes for the transition to a democratic government (the "Yes" vote won with 91%). There have been several referendums in individual municipalities in Chile since the return to civilian rule in 1990. A referendum which took place on 2006 in Las Condes
over the construction of a mall was noteworthy for being the first instance in Chilean history where electronic voting machines were used.
October 7th, 2007 the first referendum held in Costa Rica was to approve or reject a free trade agreement
with Central America
, Dominican Republic
(Costa Rica already has FTAs with the latter) and the United States
known as DR-CAFTA
, it was approved by a minimum number of votes (49.030 votes). Results were 51.62% voted in favor and 48.38% against it. It is currently the only FTA in the world that has been approved on a referendum.
The current Constitution of Iraq
was approved by referendum on 15 October 2005
, two years after the United States
-led invasion. The constitution was designed to shift crucial decisions about government, the judiciary and human rights to a future national assembly. It was later modified to provide for the establishment of a committee by the parliament to be elected in December 2005 to consider changes to the constitution in 2006.
Republic of Ireland
The current Constitution of Ireland
was adopted by plebiscite on 1 July
. In the Republic of Ireland
every constitutional amendment must be approved by referendum; 28 constitutional referendums have occurred since 1937. Constitutional amendments are first adopted by both Houses of the Oireachtas
(parliament), submitted to a referendum, and are signed into law by the President
. The role of the president, however, is merely ceremonial: she cannot refuse to sign into law an amendment that has been approved in a referendum. The constitution also provides for a referendum on an ordinary law, known as an 'ordinary referendum
'. Such a referendum can only take place under special circumstances, and none have yet occurred. The closest referendum result was 1995's vote to legalise divorce - 50.3% voted "Yes" (to legalise divorce) and 49.7% voted "No."
The constitution of Italy
provides for two kinds of binding referendum:
A legislative referendum can be called in order to abrogate totally or partially a law, but only at the request of 500,000 electors or five regional councils. This kind of referendum is valid only if at least a majority of electors goes to the polling station. It is forbidden to call a referendum regarding financial laws or laws relating to pardons or the ratification of international treaties.
A constitutional referendum can be called in order to approve a constitutional law or amendment only when it has been approved by the Chambers (Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Republic) with a majority of less than two thirds in both or either Chamber, and only at the request of one fifth of the members of either Chamber, or 500,000 electors or five regional councils. A constitutional referendum is valid no matter how many electors go to the polling station.
Any citizen entitled to vote in an election to the Chamber of Deputies may participate in a referendum.
In principle, national referendums in the Netherlands are not possible by law. However, from 2002 until 2005, there was a Temporary Referendum Law in place which allowed for non-binding referendums, known in Dutch as Volksraadpleging (literally: People's Consultation), to be organised for laws already approved by Parliament
. No referendums were called based on this law.
In order to hold the 2005 referendum
on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe
, a different law was temporarily put in place. That referendum was the first national referendum in the Netherlands in 200 years and it was the result of an initiative proposal by parliamentarians Farah Karimi
), Niesco Dubbelboer (Labour
) and Boris van der Ham (Democrats
has two types of referendum. Government referendum are predominantly either on constitutional
issues or on alcohol
policy (although this has been phased out). There are issues on other issues however. Furthermore, constitutional issues, such as the establishment of the Supreme Court of New Zealand
, need not be done through referendum. New Zealand also has provisions for Citizens' Initiated Referendum, although these are non-binding.
Under the Romanian Constitution
of 1991, revised in 2003, there are three situations in which referendums can be held. Art 90 of the constitution establishes a facultative and non-binding referendum which the President can initiate on matters of principle. Art 95 of the Constitution establishes a mandatory and binding referendum for the impeachment of the President in case he is deemed guilty of disobeying the Constitution. Art 151 of the Constitution also establishes a mandatory and binding referendum on approving Constitutional amendments. This last provision has been used twice, in adopting the Romanian Constitution in 1991 and amending it 2003.
The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia
was adopted on a referendum held in 28-29 October 2006. The constitutional referendum passed with 3,521,724 voting a 53.04% majority. 3,645,517 or 54.91% voted on the referendum, which made it legitimate.
According to the Constitution of Singapore
, a referendum can be held in a few circumstances, including situations when a constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament is rejected by the President, or when the nation's sovereignty needs to be decided (i.e. merger or incorporation into other countries). There is only one referendum in Singapore to date, which is the 1962 national referendum
, deciding on the merger of Singapore into Malaysia. Singapore eventually left Malaysia and declared independence on 9 August 1965
The Constitution of Sweden
provides for both binding and non-binding referendums. Since the introduction of parliamentary democracy six referendums have been held in Sweden
: the first was on prohibition
in 1922 and the most recent on euro
membership in 2003. All have been non-binding, consultative referendums. Two, in 1957 and 1980, were multiple choice referendums.
In Switzerland, there are binding referendums at federal, cantonal and municipal level. They are a central feature of Swiss political life. It is not the government's choice whether or when a referendum is held, but it is a legal procedure regulated by the Swiss constitution. There are two types of referendums:
- Facultative referendum: Any federal law, certain other federal resolutions, and international treaties that are either perpetual and irredeemable, joinings of an international organization, or that change Swiss law may be subject to a facultative referendum if at least 50,000 people or eight cantons have petitioned to do so within 100 days. In cantons and municipalities, the required number of people is smaller, and there may be additional causes for a facultative referendum, e.g., expenditures that exceed a certain amount of money. The facultative referendum is the most usual type of referendum, and it is mostly carried out by political parties or by interest groups.
- Obligatory referendum: There must be a referendum on any amendments to the constitution and on any joining of a multinational community or organization for collective security. In many municipalities, expenditures that exceed a certain amount of money also are subject to the obligatory referendum. Constitutional amendments are either proposed by the parliament or the cantons, or they may be proposed by citizens' initiatives, which—on the federal level—need to collect 100,000 valid signatures within 18 months, and must not contradict international laws or treaties. Often, parliament elaborates a counter-proposal to an initiative, leading to a multiple-choice referendum. Very few such initiatives pass the vote, but more often, the parliamentary counter proposal is approved.
The possibility of facultative referendums forces the parliament to search for a compromise between the major interest groups. In many cases, the mere threat of a facultative referendum or of an initiative is enough to make the parliament adjust a law.
The referendums are said, by their adversaries, to slow politics down. On the other hand empirical scientists, e.g. Bruno S. Frey among many, show that this and other instruments of citizens' participation, direct democracy, contribute to stability and happiness.
The votes on referendums are always held on a Sunday, typically three or four times a year, and in most cases, the votes concern several referendums at the same time, often at different political levels (federal, cantonal, municipal). Elections are as well often combined with referendums. The percentage of voters is around 40 to 50 percent unless there is an election. The decisions made in referendums tend to be conservative. Citizens' initiatives are usually not passed. The federal rule and referendums have been used in Switzerland since 1848.
Although Acts of Parliament may permit referendums to take place, the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty
means any Act of Parliament giving effect to a referendum result could be reversed by a subsequent Act of Parliament. As a result, referendums in the United Kingdom
cannot be constitutionally binding, although they will usually have a persuasive political effect.
Referendums are rare and the only referendum proposal to be put to the entire UK electorate was in 1975 on continued membership of the European Economic Community. Referendums have been held in individual parts of the United Kingdom on issues relating to devolution in Scotland and Wales, a regional assembly for the North-East of England, and two separate polls on the status of Northern Ireland; but since 1973, when the first one was held, only eight major referendums have been conducted. In 2004, the UK Government committed to holding a UK-wide referendum on the new EU Constitution, but this was postponed in 2005 due to the rejection of the European Constitution in France and The Netherlands. Referendums have also been proposed, but not held, on the plan to adopt the Euro as the UK's currency and whether to change from the 'First Past the Post' system to an alternative electoral system, such as proportional representation. The Scottish Government wishes to hold a referendum on Scottish Independence in 2010; although since they are a minority government it remains unclear whether that will happen.
There have also been referendums held at the local level on proposals for directly elected local mayors. The 1972 Local Government Act also contains a little-known provision which allows non-binding local referendums on any issue to be called by small groups of voters. Strathclyde Regional Council held a postal referendum in 1994 on whether control of water and sewerage services should be transferred to appointed boards: this was largely a political tactic, since this was the policy of the UK Government at the time. The UK Parliament enacted the legislation anyway, and it came into force on 1 April 1996.
In the United States, the term "referendum" typically refers to a popular vote to overturn legislation already passed at the state or local levels (mainly in the western United States). By contrast, "initiatives" and "legislative referrals" consist of newly drafted legislation submitted directly to a popular vote as an alternative to adoption by a legislature. Collectively, referendums and initiatives in the United States
are commonly referred to as ballot measures
, or propositions
There is no provision for the holding of referendums at the federal level in the United States; indeed, there is no national electorate of any kind. However, the constitutions of 24 states (principally in the West) and many local and city governments provide for referendums and citizen's initiatives. The most famous U.S. state initiatives are probably California's Proposition 13, and the Massachusetts equivalent from 1980, Proposition 2½, which severely limited property tax increases. They are especially popular in modifying state constitutions.
- Brazil: In October 2005, 122 million voters decided to continue to allow the sale of firearms in Brazil. This referendum was offered by the government as part of a violence minimization initiative known as ''project disarmament.
- Croatia held an independence referendum in May, 1991, with a turnout of 80%, of which 93% of the voters opted for independence.
- Eritrea: In April 1993 nearly 1 million voters (a quarter of the population), cast ballots to become "sovereign and independent" of Ethiopia. This vote was the result of thirty years of war by Eritreans during their War of Independence. The result was a vote for independence by 99.8% of the voters.
- France: In France a constitutional amendment must be approved by either a super-majority in parliament or by the people in a referendum.
- Kashmir (a state within the territory of British India): The Security Council of United Nations on the complaint of Government of India concerning the dispute over the State of Jammu and Kashmir passed resolution 47(1948), “that both India and Pakistan desire that the question of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”. It recommended to the Governments of India and Pakistan to restore peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir and provide full freedom to all subjects of the state, to vote on the question of accession.
- Puerto Rico: Three Puerto Rican status referendums (in 1967, 1993, and 1998) have taken place in Puerto Rico to determine whether the insular area should become an independent nation (comprising a republic and an associated republic), apply for statehood, or maintain commonwealth (Estado Libre Asociado) states. Remaining a commonwealth has been the result of all three referendums. There was also a 2005 referendum (Resolution 64) to determine whether the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico should legislature should be restructed (among other changes become unicameral).
- Singapore: On 1 September 1962 a referendum was held to put the proposal for Singapore to merge with Malaya to a direct vote by the citizens. There were three choices: 1) To merge with Malaya, having autonomy in labour and education; 2) To merge with Malaya, having same status as the other states in Malaya; 3) To merge with Malaya, having terms similar to those of the Borneo territories. No objection to merger was to be made however.
- Spain: In 1976 a referendum was held to determine if citizens wanted to change the political system (i.e., the dictatorship) or not to change it, after the death of Francisco Franco. Spaniards chose (94%) to change ("Referéndum para la reforma política", literally «Referendum for political reformation»). Also, in 1986 another referendum approved Spain's membership to NATO.
- Venezuela: In the Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004 voters determined whether or not Hugo Chávez, the current President of Venezuela, should be recalled from office. The result of the referendum was to not recall Chávez.
- Thailand: On 4 September 2008 amidst hundreds of thousands of protesters demanding the government resign,Thailand's premier Samak Sundaravej's government approved the idea of a referendum to ask the Thai electorate if it wanted to keep the government or not. The plebicite was viewed as not likely to be held because it was certain to unfairly legitimize the government's standing and policies.
A referendum usually offers the electorate only two choices, either to accept or reject a proposal, but this need not necessarily be the case. In Switzerland
, for example, multiple choice referendums are common; two multiple choice referendums held in Sweden
, in 1957 and 1980, offered voters a choice of three options; and in 1977 a referendum held in Australia
to determine a new national anthem
was held in which voters were presented with four choices.
A multiple choice referendum poses the problem of how the result is to be determined if no single option receives the support of an absolute majority (i.e., more than half) of voters. This can be resolved by applying voting systems designed for single winner elections to a multiple-choice referendum.
Swiss referendums get around this problem by offering a separate vote on each of the multiple options as well as an additional decision about which of the multiple options should be preferred. In the Swedish case, in both referendums the 'winning' option was chosen by the Single Member Plurality ("first past the post") system. In other words the winning option was deemed to be that supported by a plurality, rather than an absolute majority, of voters. In the 1977 Australian referendum the winner was chosen by the system of Instant Run-off Voting (also known as the 'Alternative Vote').
Some groups, such as the Northern Ireland de Borda Institute, advocate the conduct of referendums using the Modified Borda count (MBC) form of preferential voting, and refer to such a vote as a Borda 'preferendum'. The de Borda Institute argues that the MBC would produce results based on consensus rather than majoritarianism; it is therefore suggested for use in plebiscites held in areas of conflict such as Northern Ireland, the Balkans or Kashmir, and not least because the two-option referendum, in such situations, can and often does provoke violence. The MBC can/could also be used (electronically) in meetings, councils and parliaments. Critics of the Borda count argue that it is particularly susceptible to tactical voting and to the tactical nomination of candidates, and that it may produce results that are opposed by a majority of voters. Proponents of the MBC point out, however, that democracy is for everybody, not just a majority; decisions should therefore be taken in consensus, either by talking and talking, or by talking and voting in an MBC. Other voting methods that could be employed are Condorcet methods and approval voting that are not subject to the effects of irrelevant alternatives and less susceptible to insincere preference intensity.
et al. wrote after the Nazi- Holocaust, WWII a Human Rights Declaration, passed into Law 10.12.1948, where Direct Democracy (Referendum) is part of. See: Article 21: "1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives."
Although some advocates of direct democracy would have the referendum become the dominant institution of government, in practice and in principle, in almost all cases, the referendum exists solely as a complement to the system of representative democracy
, in which most major decisions are made by an elected legislature. An often cited exception is the Swiss canton of Glarus
, in which meetings are held on the village lawn to decide on matters of public concern. In most jurisdictions that practice them, referendums are relatively rare occurrences and are restricted to important issues.
Advocates of the referendum argue that certain decisions are best taken out of the hands of representatives and determined directly by the people. Some adopt a strict definition of democracy, saying elected parliaments are a necessary expedient to make governance possible in the large, modern nation-state, though direct democracy is nonetheless preferable and the referendum takes precedence over Parliamentary decisions.
Other advocates insist that the principle of popular sovereignty demands that certain foundational questions, such as the adoption or amendment of a constitution, the secession of a state or the altering of national boundaries, be determined with the directly expressed consent of the people.
Advocates of representative democracy say referendums are used by politicians to avoid making difficult or controversial decisions.
Criticism of populist aspect
Critics of the referendum argue that voters in a referendum are more likely driven by transient whims than careful deliberation, or that they are not sufficiently informed to make decisions on complicated or technical issues. Voters might furthermore be swayed by strong personalities, or the adverse influence of propaganda or expensive advertising campaigns. James Madison
argued that direct democracy is the "tyranny of the majority."
Some opposition to the referendum has arisen from its use by dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini who, it is argued, used the plebiscite to disguise oppressive policies in a veneer of populism. Hitler's use of the plebiscite is one reason why, since World War II, there has been no provision in Germany for the holding of referendums at the federal level.
British politician Chris Patten
summarized many of the arguments used by those who oppose the referendum in an interview in 2003 when discussing the possibility of a referendum in the United Kingdom
on the European Union Constitution
- I think referendums are awful. They were the favorite form of plebiscitary democracy of Mussolini and Hitler. They undermine Westminster [parliament]. What they ensure, as we saw in the last election, is if you have a referendum on an issue politicians during an election campaign say oh we're not going to talk about that, we don't need to talk about that, that's all for the referendum. So during the last election campaign the euro was hardly debated. I think referendums are fundamentally anti-democratic in our system and I wouldn't have anything to do with them. On the whole, governments only concede them when governments are weak (BBC, 2004).
A further perceived flaw of the referendum is that in some circumstances the democratic spirit of the referendum may be flouted by the repeated submission to the referendum of a proposal until it is eventually endorsed, perhaps due to a low turn-out or public fatigue with the issue. This is especially a problem where a proposal may be difficult to reverse, such as secession from a larger country or the abolition of a monarchy. The repeated holding of a referendum on a single issue
has been pejoratively referred to as a "never-end-um".
Many critics of the EU point to the Treaty of Nice's ratification procedure in Ireland, where the government submitted the Treaty to a referendum twice, getting the required "Yes" vote on the second attempt. However such critics fail to mention the neutrality clause added at the second referendum, which helped allay fears which led the electorate to vote "No" the first time.
Closed questions and the separability problem
Some critics of the referendum attack the use of closed questions
. A difficulty which can plague a referendum of two issues or more is called the separability problem
. If one issue is in fact, or in perception, related to another on the ballot, the imposed simultaneous voting of first preference on each issue can result in an outcome that is displeasing to most.
- Interview with Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Affairs (2003). bbc.co.uk Retrieved 13 Oct. 2004 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast_with_frost/2954232.stm.
- Emerson, P J. Defining Democracy puts both two-option and multi-option referendums into their historical context, and suggests which are the more accurate measures of "the will of the people". The de Borda Institute is at http://www.deborda.org
- Emerson Peter, Designing an All-Inclusive Democracy (Springer-Verlag, 2007), describes the Modified Borda Count (MBC), as well as the Quota Borda System (QBS) and the matrix vote.
- The Federal Authorities of the Swiss Confederation, statistics (German). http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/themen/17/03/blank/key/stimmbeteiligung.html
- Arizona Proposition 204, 2006
- Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals)
- Belfast Agreement (1998)
- Bolivian gas referendum, 2004
- Carinthian Plebiscite (1920)
- Cypriot Annan Plan referendum, 2004
- Edinburgh congestion charge (2005)
- Kenyan constitutional referendum, 2005
- Montenegrin independence referendum, 1992
- Montenegrin independence referendum, 2006
- Norwegian prohibition referendum, 1919
- Norwegian continued prohibition referendum, 1926
- Norwegian European Communities membership referendum, 1972
- Norwegian European Union membership referendum, 1994
- Panama Canal expansion referendum, 2006
- Puerto Rico status referendums (1967, 1993, 1998)
- Republic of China referendums
- Serbian constitutional referendum, 2006
- South African referendum, 1992
- Tokelauan self-determination referendum, 2006
- Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004
Referenda in Canada:
- Alberta liquor plebiscite, 1957
- British Columbia aboriginal treaty referendum, 2002
- British Columbia electoral reform referendum, 2005
- British Columbia electoral reform referendum, 2009
- Charlottetown Accord
- List of Northwest Territories plebiscites
- Newfoundland referendums, 1948
- Northwest Territories division plebiscite, 1982
- Nunavut capital plebiscite, 1995
- Ontario electoral reform referendum, 2007
- Ontario prohibition plebiscite, 1894
- Ontario prohibition referendum, 1902
- Ontario prohibition referendum, 1919
- Ontario prohibition referendum, 1921
- Ontario prohibition referendum, 1924
- Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum, 2005
- Quebec referendum, 1980
- Quebec referendum, 1995
- Saint John, New Brunswick ward plebiscite, 2007
Referendums in the United Kingdom:
Referendums related to European Union accession: