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Democracy everywhere is facing serious challenges.In the United Kingdom, the vision of recovered national sovereignty is fueling the campaign to leave the EU.The upcoming referendum on Britain's EU membership is a case in point.Referendums, in particular, can carry serious risks.Negotiating the details of Britain's relationship with Europe, whatever the outcome, will take years; but ameliorating the polarization caused by the referendum will take even longer.In representative democracies like the U.K. (and nearly all other democracies today), voters choose leaders to weigh up complex arguments and make trade-offs.The most recent analogy in the U.K. is the Suez Crisis of 1956, which turned into a debate about postwar Britain's role in the world and the extent of its dependence on American goodwill. By calling a referendum, Britain has introduced a deep and fundamental conflict into its political sphere.
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