David Altman (PhD, University of Notre Dame) returns to the Kellogg Institute for the fall semester from the Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile, where he is professor of political science. Previously a Kellogg dissertation year fellow and guest scholar, he is collaborating with Faculty Fellow Michael Coppedge on the Varieties of Democracy project as project manager for direct democracy and Latin America.
Properly designed direct democracy can empower citizens by breaking through institutionalized barriers to accountability, Altman asserts. He will extend his research by looking at the policy consequences of citizen participation in the project “Does Direct Democracy Alter the Status Quo? The Policy Impact of Direct Democracy Around the World (1980–2010).” He plans a comprehensive large-N study to look at the worldwide use of mechanisms of direct democracy—referenda, popular initiatives, and plebiscites—with the goal of analyzing whether it is possible to make generalizations about popular votes, or if each vote is too distinct to draw patterns.
Altman’s most recent book is Direct Democracy Worldwide (Cambridge University Press, 2011), which is the springboard for his current project. He has also contributed numerous articles to peer-reviewed journals, including “Bringing Direct Democracy Back In: Towards a Three-Dimensional Measure of Democracy,” Democratization (forthcoming).