IRI Guidebooks to Direct Democracy
It is the goal of the Initiative and Referendum Institute, Europe's first think-tank on modern direct democracy founded in 2001, to make a significant contribution to improving the knowledge of the history and practice of direct democracy – in the world in general, and especially in Europe.
That is why the IRI "Guidebook to Direct Democracy" (published in English, French, Spanish, German, Korean, Italian, Finnish and Chinese) focuses on the place where the tools which allow citizens to take part in political decision-making are the most extensive and have been used for the longest period of time – Switzerland. Over the past 150 years, citizens' rights have been continually extended and now cover all the levels of political life (national, cantonal and local) and all areas of politics (including foreign policy).
The IRI Europe "Guidebook to Direct Democracy" which is written and edited by Bruno Kaufmann, Rolf Büchi and Nadja Braun, does not restrict itself to Switzerland, however, but places that country's rich experience within the European and global contexts, where the rights of political codecision making are being extended to more and more people in more and more countries, going far beyond simply electing political parties and their representatives to include the possibility of influencing the political agenda by means of initiatives, and deciding important substantive issues through referendums.
The IRI Guidebooks offer a variety of entry-points into the subject: the twelve introductory essays present the major contexts and challenges; the many factsheets serve to deepen the factual and analytical basis on a selection of specific themes; and the concluding surveys contain further materials, facts and links on the institutions and the practice of direct democracy around the world.