Plebiscite vs Referendum: Difference and Comparison

There are many changes that take place in law. People do not understand these terms. A majority of laws are just passed by amendments and statutes or made by including them in the common law.

Even though this happens, some important issues do need public votes for decisions to be made. For this purpose, the terms plebiscite and Referendum were introduced.

Key Takeaways

  1. A plebiscite is a direct vote by the people to determine a political issue, such as a change in the constitution or sovereignty.
  2. A referendum is a general vote by the electorate on a specific proposal, such as a law or policy.
  3. Plebiscites resolve political crises, while referendums gauge public opinion on specific issues.

Plebiscite vs Referendum

A plebiscite is a type of vote which is given to identify an issue related to politics. This vote can also be given for policy change. This vote is initiated by the government. This vote can be given by anyone. A referendum is another type of vote which can be given on a particular proposal. This vote is initiated by the citizens. 

Plebiscite vs Referendum

The term plebiscite can also be called an advisory referendum. This arises due to the action on results which are taken on.

This term does not have any relationship with Constitution, but it does take all important decisions which are in the control and authority of a parliament to bring about a change.

The term referendum is called a Constitutional referendum. This helps to change the approval in a Constitution. A referred is the primary way to help bring about a change in an amendment in the Constitution.

A referendum is a primary way of doing this change, according to section 128. There is a need to have a double major for decisions taken regarding changes in amendments.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPlebisciteReferendum
EnvironmentThis occurs only under an undemocratic environment.This occurs only under a democratic environment.
AimThis aims in brings in a feeling of unity and empowerment in the government.This aims in brings in a feeling of unity and empowerment in the people.
Main functionThis a primary technique to legitimate a policy by the government.This is a way of getting a stronger opinion in the masses.
Carried out byThis can be carried out only by some specific authority of people at the high post.This can be carried out by a citizen or a group of people having the same motto.
CharacteristicThis is a way of voting by itself.This is a way of phrasing the vote.

What is a Plebiscite?

The term plebiscite can also be called an advisory referendum. This arises due to the action on results which are taken on.

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This term does not have any relationship with Constitution, but it does take all important decisions which are in the control and authority of a parliament to bring about a change.

For taking up a plebiscite, the government takes the consent of the general public before passing any changes in any act stated. There is a requirement of an act of parliament in a plebiscite to help accompany the proposal taken off in a parliament.

This act plays an essential role when it comes to deciding whether it is compulsory or not for people to vote in plebiscites.

There is no need to conduct a plebiscite in a specific order or way. There can be conduction of a plebiscite regarding the internal matters happening in that particular state.

For example, there was a plebiscite conducted by Australia to decide if the legalization of same-sex marriage should happen or no.

plebiscite

What is a Referendum?

The term referendum is called a Constitutional referendum. This helps to change the approval in a Constitution. A referred is the primary way to help bring about a change in an amendment in the Constitution.

A referendum is a primary way of doing this change, according to section 128. There is a need to have a double major for decisions taken regarding changes in amendments.

This means that there must be a majority of more than 50 percent of the people of that particular state. Just like how it is compulsory to vote for selecting the right candidate for our state or country through elections, Australians also have to vote in referendums.

There is a binding of a legal force on the government, which results in the Referendum.

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There have been almost 45 referenda that have been taken since 1901, and only 8 of them have been accepted.

A very recent example of the Referendum is that, in Australia, a referendum took place to change Australia into a republic union, and it should tie up an Alice with the US. However, this Referendum was not passed since there were about 54% more votes against this Referendum.

referendum

Main Differences Between a Plebiscite and a Referendum

  1. A plebiscite occurs only in an undemocratic environment, and on the other hand, a referendum occurs only in a democratic environment.
  2. A plebiscite brings unity and empowerment in the government; on the other hand, a referendum brings a feeling of empowerment within the people.
  3. The technique of legitimate a policy by the government is called a plebiscite, and on the other hand, the way of getting a stronger opinion in the masses in a country is known as a referendum.
  4. A plebiscite can be carried out only by some specific authority of people at the high post, and on the other hand, a referendum can be carried out by a citizen or a group of people having the same motto.
  5. A plebiscite is a way of voting by itself, and on the other hand, a referendum is a way of phrasing the vote.
References
  1. https://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/id/eprint/59204
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=iOAthp-d7BUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=plebiscite+vs+referendum&ots=Ka2oWWTFMq&sig=hUeulQFo9zktJbounAUQ9oTH7uE

Last Updated : 22 June, 2023

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24 thoughts on “Plebiscite vs Referendum: Difference and Comparison”

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