In most democratic nations, a government representing the citizens can make or change laws, but the constitution governs the law-making process and the rules that the government must follow. The constitution can only be changed if the change is voted for in a referendum - each voter must approve or dissapprove the proposed changes, and if a majority approve, then the constitution is changed.

Ref`er*en"dum (r?f`?r*?n"d?m), n. [Gerundive fr. L. referre. See Refer.]


A diplomatic agent's note asking for instructions from his government concerning a particular matter or point.


The right to approve or reject by popular vote a meassure passed upon by a legislature.


© Webster 1913

Ref`er*en"dum (?), n.; pl. - da (#). [Gerundive fr. L. referre. See Refer.]

The principle or practice of referring measures passed upon by the legislative body to the body of voters, or electorate, for approval or rejection, as in the Swiss cantons (except Freiburg) and in various local governments in the United States, and also in the local option laws, etc.; also, the right to so approve or reject laws, or the vote by which this is done. Referendum is distinguished from the mandate, or instruction of representatives by the people, from direct government by the people, in which they initiate and make the laws by direct action without representation, and from a plebiscite, or popular vote taken on any measure proposed by a person or body having the initiative but not constituting a representative or constituent body.


© Webster 1913

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