PLEBISCITE (Lat. plebiscilum, a decree of the plebs), a term borrowed from the French for a vote of all the electors in a country taken on some specific question (see also REFERENDUM). The most familiar exi nple of the use of the plebiscite in French history was in 1852, when the coup d'etat of 1851 was confirmed and the title of emperor was given to Napoleon III. In Roman constitutional law the plebiscitum was a decree enacted in the assembly of the plebs, the comitia tributa, presided over by a plebeian magistrate.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)