Grants & Fellowships | United States Institute of Peace
This has been a tragedy for California, but it matters far beyond the state's borders. Around half of America's states and an increasing number of countries have direct democracy in some form (). Next month Britain will have its first referendum for years (on whether to change its voting system), and there is talk of voter recalls for aberrant MPs. The European Union has just introduced the first supranational initiative process. With technology making it ever easier to hold referendums and Western voters ever more angry with their politicians, direct democracy could be on the march.
America: Republic or Democracy? - William P. Meyers
Lately, from politicians, radio-talk show hosts, and othercommentators, we have heard that we should forget about democracy,because the U.S.A. is a republic. But some questions are beingposed by democracy advocates: What is a republic? What is a democracy?Should the United States be a mere republic, or a genuine democracy?
In the United States, élites who feared the ignorance of poor immigrants tried to restrict ballots. In 1855, Connecticut introduced the first literacy test for American voters. Although a New York Democrat protested, in 1868, that “if a man is ignorant, he needs the ballot for his protection all the more,” in the next half century the tests spread to almost all parts of the country. They helped racists in the South circumvent the Fifteenth Amendment and disenfranchise blacks, and even in immigrant-rich New York a 1921 law required new voters to take a test if they couldn’t prove that they had an eighth-grade education. About fifteen per cent flunked. Voter literacy tests weren’t permanently outlawed by Congress until 1975, years after the civil-rights movement had discredited them.