Why is it so DIFFICULT for the sovereign electorate to get a referendum?

Almost half of us in the UK agree that a new nationwide referendum should be held, this time on the terms for leaving the EU (survey reported January 2018). Far fewer, only a third of those questioned, are against the idea. In June 2017 a similar poll showed that a majority of 53 percent were in favour and 47 percent against holding a ballot on the "brexit" terms.

So, because a huge number of citizens, voters, want a chance to re-consider and co-decide about "brexit" now that we know more about it, then we will probably have a referendum on this. won't we? By NO MEANS is this certain. Why the uncertainty? Well, strange though it may seem, only the prime minister and government (with a law waved through by Parliament) can "allow" us to have a referendum. This is a feature of our notorious "elective dictatorship", a term which has been used to illustrate that, having seized power in a general election, a United Kingdom government can do anything it and its pals want to do, until another election some years later. There is little chance that the people and electorate, who in a democracy are supposed to hold and own political power, can effectively intervene to veto or modify government policy or law-making. Should we despair? No! Because there are ways to correct these deficits of public participation, practical ways to enable stronger, more citizen-led democracy.

Is democracy better in other places? From the viewpoint of the "Demos", the People, citizens who wish to take part in running our own ("public") affairs, and keep tabs on politicians, there are some very useful examples. 

In some countries quite similar to ours the major improvement over our UK democracy is that a very large number of voters can refer a serious proposal to the whole electorate and obtain a referendum-ballot, WITHOUT having to beg the government to allow this. Examples:

New Zealand
To obtain a national referendum 10 percent of the electorate must endorse the proposal. Time to collect signatures: 12 months

For a referendum, half a million voters must endorse the proposal with only three months to collect signatures (challenging ...).

To obtain a referendum 300,000 citizens must demand one, within six weeks. The procedure starts with an initiative-proposition which must be supported by 10,000 voters.

United  Kingdom
There is no official provision for citizen-led direct democracy of the above sorts.  There are proposals to introduce it, for instance by the Joseph Rowntree funded "Power Inquiry".  They put forward a plan as follows: Citizens' initiative and referendum to be conducted in two stages 1. Initiative (proposition) requires endorsement by one percent of registered voters collected within a year. 2.  If parliament rejects the proposal, in order to obtain a referendum a further one percent must endorse the demand within 6 months.

Let's go for it! We keep Parliament and government to do most of the work which we pay them to do. In addition, by introducing some "tools" of citizen-led direct democracy we the voters can:
Veto bad or unwanted government laws, actions or policy.
Change and make laws.
Make constitution such as a new way of electing MPs and establish the right of many citizens to launch a referendum.
Directly intervene if power appears out of control e.g. the Conservative party with Theresa May after the 2016 referendum, some "brexiteer" politicians, ministers-apparently-gone-off-the-rails such as Michael Gove... ;-)

More detail at this web site and on request:

Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
Citizens' Initiative and Referendum I&R ~ GB
http://www.iniref.org/  Link to site index
Contact: info@iniref.org