Vote by the people of an entire country or district to decide an issue. Voters are asked to accept or reject a given proposal rather than choose between alternative proposals. By means of plebiscites, intermediaries such as political parties can be bypassed. Because plebiscites offer a way to claim a popular mandate without permitting an opposition party, totalitarian regimes have used them to legitimize their power. See also referendum and initiative.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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