Nowadays it is very common to confuse both terms. Information services (especially television) have helped foster this confusion by using one and other word indiscriminately. Both the referendum and the plebiscite are regarded as instruments of democracy because they allow the exercise and the expression of the public will. Here are their true meanings. Plebiscite. It is a form of popular vote in order to decide on an exceptional problem and does not presuppose a legal act.
A Government summons the people to a plebiscite only for its opinion. Referendum. It is a popular vote live on a matter of public interest. Used with more regularity than the plebiscite. Through this constitutional formula, the governed directly involved in public decision-making. It is also a manifestation of popular sovereignty. The plural form is referendums. So if our Government calls for a plebiscite, it is to know what opinion on a particular issue; very different is that is us invited to participate in a referendum, because in that case our voting u opinion will directly influence the decision-making process and therefore, in the course the country will take.