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According to the Constitutional Act of Denmark, certain circumstances require that the public rather than the politicians have the final say.
In these situations, the Constitutional Act states that the entire electorate may or must be directly involved in making a decision through a referendum. If, for instance, a proposal has been made to amend the Constitutional Act, one of the requirements is that citizens must be asked to accept or reject it. For a constitutional amendment to come into force, at least 40 per cent of the electorate must accept it.
According to the Constitutional Act, there are five circumstances under which a referendum may or must be held, and where the result is binding, namely in connection with:
However, not all Bills can be subject to a referendum. This applies to Finance Bills and Fiscal Bills, for instance.
Members of the Danish Parliament and regional and municipal councils may also decide to hold a consultative referendum. This means that citizens are consulted prior to politicians making their final decision. To date, the Danish Parliament has only held one consultative referendum, namely in 1986 where the Danes were consulted on the so-called EU package.
Danish citizens with permanent residence in Denmark, Greenland or the Faroe Islands and who are at least 18 years of age are entitled to vote in referendums.
Anita May Jayasinghe