One argument that is used against decision-making by popular referendum is that they tend to lead to populist, perhaps even impossible decisions. It seems that referendums can lead to decisions that corresponding legislations would not take. The Swiss minaret ban from 2009 is a(n) (in)famous example. In a Swiss referendum in 1989, more than 35% voted in favour of abolishing the army; although not near a majority, it was accepted in two cantons, and in parliament this idea would not have gotten such a high percentage.
Has there been any systematic study to test whether referendums lead to significantly different decisions than when all decisions are taken by elected parliamentarians? The term populist is probably quite subjective, but would such decisions be likely to be considered populist?