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Secesia, referendum a legitimita znenia textu hlasovacích lístkov vedecká reflexia


Přemysl Rosůlek


Politické vedy, Volume 19, Number 4/2016, pages 93-118

Odporúčaná forma citácie článku / Recommended form for quotation of the article:

ROSŮLEK, P. 2016. Secession, Referendum and Legitimacy of a Ballot Text –Scholarly Reflection. In Politické vedy. [online]. Roč. 19, č. 4, 2016. ISSN 1335–2741, s. 93-118. Dostupné na internete: <>.



After the 1980 and 1995 sovereignty referendums in Quebec,relevant international institutions and liberal democratic states involved in secessionist struggles of their peripheries and scholars started to pay attention to the issue of wording of ballot formulas designed for independence referendums. In this text, the rather underestimated scholarly reflection of the issue will be critically scrutinized. Scholars have investigated on many aspects of the ballot text. Nevertheless, I argue that the whole debate on its legitimacy can be narrowed to three most relevant legitimizing criteria. Naturally, referendum questions ought to be an important part of scholarly attention, nevertheless, the relevance of response options cannot be underestimated. Last but not least, attention was paid to the question whether single-question ballot texts deserve more legitimacy thanmultiple-choiceballot texts. I found out that there was a dynamic development of the issue within the last two decades. As for intelligibility of the referendum questions, scholars have defined a clear question in opposition to unbearably long and biased formulas. As for fair response options, it has not been clear whether, in future, the most common Yes-No binary alternatives might be substituted by long and illustrative response options as it was the case on the ballot text designed for “Brexit”. Finally, scholars have not brought a clear answer to the question whether a single issue –which oversimplifies the issue –or a multiple-choice ballot text –which rarely generates clear majority for any of the alternatives –fulfils better the criteria of legitimacy.

Key words:  secession, legitimacy, referendum, referendum question, response option, wording of the formula, ballot text, multiple-choice ballot



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