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Now that British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing certain defeat, has postponed Parliament's vote on the deal she concluded with the European Union last month on the United Kingdom's departure from the bloc, the case for a "people's vote" a second Brexit referendum is gaining ground. But is a referendum really the right mechanism for settling political issues that the people's elected representatives cannot or will not?Referenda give people a voice. Of course, governments could simply not hold referenda. That is the case in Belgium, Malaysia and Indonesia (where plebiscites were used during the intensification of authoritarian rule in 1985-1999). But if countries still want the option of referenda, they should impose formal rules that help to ensure that politicians cannot use them to dodge difficult decisions. The U.K. has held only three country-wide referenda in its history: one on European Economic Community membership in 1975; another on the alternative vote system in 2011; and the Brexit vote in 2016 .
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