Difference Between Referendum and Elections

Primary Difference

There are various ways of deciding something, some people take mutual decisions while other decide on their own or consult others to reach a unanimous decision. This is done on the individual level while on a bigger level such as deciding the fate of a country or selecting the right people to rule is a challenge bigger than the normal issues. There are some terms we hear all over the world whenever there is some sort of selection is being done and they can be confusing at most times because people do not have an idea what they exactly mean or how they are different from each other even though the name differs from each other. Two such terms which are commonly taken in such scenario are known as referendum and elections. They are markedly different from each other and the only similar in a way that it helps in taking the decision, otherwise they are fairly opposite to each other. The differences will be discussed in this article. Elections are an official process by which people of a country select their representatives and hence become a member of parliaments. This can be taken down to a lower level where elections take place to select the leader of a political party, or an organization or even lower levels such as governing bodies of different sectors. For example, NHS England has a governing body which is run by the employees who vote to select the person which will represent them and fight for their rights. The referendum, on the other hand, is different in a way that all the people who are eligible to vote, will cast their decision in the ballot box whenever they are asked one particular question or have to select or reject one particular person. The best example of this is the Brexit vote taken place in June where people of the United Kingdom had to decide if they wanted to stay in the European Union or leave it, and after the voting the left side won by a small margin, hence making the referendum successful for their cause. Though there are two cases in a referendum, mandatory ones are the type in which the government is bound to implement the decision while the advisory ones in which people are just asked their option as a suggestion. There are other ways of showing the difference as well but a brief explanation of both these types will be given in the next two paragraphs while differences, in a nutshell, will be given at the end of this article to clarify how they differ.

Comparison Chart

ReferendumElection
DefinitionIt is a legal process and a way that all the people who are eligible to vote, will cast their decision in the ballot box whenever they are asked one particular questionIt is known as a process in which a selected group of people decide which post is to be filled by a selection of people.
TypeTwoOne
Resultthe result of the referendum may or may not be implemented.The results of elections have to be accepted by the authorities involved.
PublicAll the people who can vote, vote for a problem at the national levelpeople vote to select other people at the local level in elections.

 

ExampleUK decision of leaving the EUUS process of selecting the president.

Definition of Elections

There are many terms which help in defining the election is. It is known as a process in which a selected group of people decide which post is to be filled by a selection of people. There is set of laws according to which these are carried out and it is the responsibility of the government that the elections are conducted in a fair manner. Elections are an official process by which people of a country select their representatives and hence become a member of parliaments. This can be taken down to a lower level where elections take place to select the leader of a political party, or an organization or even lower levels such as governing bodies of different sectors. For example, NHS England has a governing body which is run by the employees who vote to select the person which will represent them and fight for their rights. There are not any specific types of elections, they are conducted in a similar manner no matter how high or low the level is. There are always people appointed who have the responsibility of making sure people cast their vote in the correct way and is considered the most democratic way.

Definition of Referendum

The referendum is a legal process and a way that all the people who are eligible to vote, will cast their decision in the ballot box whenever they are asked one particular question or have to select or reject one particular person. The best example of this is the Brexit vote taken place in June where people of the United Kingdom had to decide if they wanted to stay in the European Union or leave it, and after the voting the left side won by a small margin, hence making the referendum successful for their cause. Though there are two cases in a referendum, mandatory ones are the type in which the government is bound to implement the decision while the advisory ones in which people are just asked their option as a suggestion. This can be done in different ways; people can be asked to vote on a particular day or different days are allocated in different areas to make sure the best possible turn out happens. In simple words, it is a single issue vote and there is a need to do it again if another issue arises. Another way of describing it is that it can be considered as a popular vote and based on it, decisions can be taken by the government on a particular issue.

Difference in a Nutshell

  1. There are two different types of the referendum while there is just one particular type of elections.
  2. The referendum takes place on a single issue while elections take place to select a body of people to run specific affairs.
  3. The results of elections have to be accepted by the authorities involved while the result of the referendum may or may not be implemented.
  4. All the people who can vote, vote for a problem at the national level in a referendum while people vote to select other people at the local level in elections.
  5. The best example of the referendum is the UK decision for leaving the EU, while the best example of elections is the US process of selecting the president.

Conclusion

There are many terms which can give the impression that they have the same meaning but in actual are very different from each other, Referendum and Elections are these terms which have been explained in this article and the concepts have been made clearer for people who do not generally know much about them.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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