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Direct democracy and referenda

Some of the findings of my research on direct democracy are:

  • Citizens high in political sophistication and those using referential heuristics are more likely to "vote correctly" (ref)

  • Voting decisions that are "consistent" with the voters' issue opinions are more likely for sophisticated citizens and when the election campaign is intense (ref)

  • In referendum campaigns, parties are more likely to go negative when they face unfavourable competitive standings and voting day is near (ref)

  • Voter ambivalence is driven by a combination of individual and contextual factors (ref)

  • In referendums, negativity from the "Yes" camp mobilises (higher turnout), whereas negativity form the "No" camp demobilises (ref)

  • The Swiss Far-right party SVP is substantially more likely to go negative on its opponents than other parties (ref)

  • Swiss citizens high in trust in government are more likely to support bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU (ref)


Nai, A., & Martinez i Coma, F. (2019). Losing in the polls, time pressure, and the decision to go negative in referendum campaignsPolitics & Governance, 7(2), 278–296.

Nai, A. and Sciarini, P. (2018). Why 'going negative'? Strategic and situational determinants of personal attacks in Swiss direct democratic votesJournal of Political Marketing17(4), 382-417.

Nai, A. (Ed.) (2016). Le citoyen face à ses opinions: arguments, connaissances et campagnes politiques en Suisse, Zurich: Seismo.

Nai, A. (2015). The maze and the mirror: Voting correctly in direct democracySocial Science Quarterly, 96(2): 465-486.


Sciarini, P., Lanz, S. and Nai, A. (2015). Till immigration do us part? Public opinion and the dilemma between immigration control and bilateral agreementsSwiss Political Science Review, 21(2): 271–286.


Lanz, S. and Nai, A. (2015). Vote as you think: Determinants of consistent decision-making in direct democracySwiss Political Science Review, 21(1): 119-139.

Nai, A. (2014). Choisir avec l'esprit, voter avec le Coeur. Causes et conséquences des processus cognitifs de formation de l'opinion en Suisse lors des votations fédérales, Zurich: Seismo.

Nai, A. (2014). The Cadillac, the mother-in-law, and the ballot: individual and contextual roots of ambivalence in Swiss direct democracyElectoral Studies, 33: 292-306.


Nai, A. (2013). What really matters is which camp goes dirty. Differential effects of negative campaigning on turnout during Swiss federal ballotsEuropean Journal of Political Research, 52(1): 44-70. 

Nai, A. et Lloren, A. (2009). Intérêt spécifique et comportement politique des citoyennes suisses (1999-2005)Swiss Political Science Review, 15(1): 99-132.

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