"I have followed the politics of development planning for long enough to recognise that public consultation is even easier to manipulate than parliamentary politics. In several cases I have seen how fake consultations have been used to manufacture consent among unwilling populations, giving a semblance of democracy to decisions that have already been made by property developers and venal councillors. This is by no means an argument against consultation or participation, just a warning that it is not a magic formula for democratic renewal. Every process can be corrupted: all forms of democracy require perpetual vigilance." —George Monbiot
I highly recommend The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria as a detailed examination of the problems of direct democracy.