The current debt crisis in Europe and North America raises the question of how to impose spending discipline on governments and politicians. A country with historically low government spending is Switzerland, which many argue is related to the high use of direct democracy. Direct democracy is also prevalent in other countries such as the United States, where more than two thirds of the population lives in a state or city with a popular initiative. Comparing data on postwar spending in states with more or less direct democracy, the empirical evidence points to a strong negative correlation between a region’s spending level and the existence of direct democracy in both the United States and Switzerland (Feld and Matsusaka 2003, Matsusaka 2004).
Friday, February 10, 2012
At least when it comes to government budgetary decisions, direct (plebiscitary) democracy may be the best choice, according to Funk and Gathmann: