Hobolt, Sara Binzer (2009) Framing Effects in Referendums on European Integration: Experimental Evidence. In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
Direct democracy played no role in the early stages of the European integration process, but has become an increasingly important way of making decisions on important European issues. The outcome of this public consultation has occasionally both surprised and dismayed national and European political elites; most recently after French, Dutch and Irish voters rejected the attempts of constitutional reform of the European Union. Yet, elites also have considerable influence on how voters decide in referendums. This paper examines one aspect of elite influence in direct democracy, namely how different ‘frames’ affect individual vote choices in referendums on European integration. Framing effects occur when people’s responses to an issue depend on how it is portrayed. This paper relies on survey experiments to examine two types of framing effects in (hypothetical) EU referendums. First, it explores the influence of party endorsements on partisan and non‐partisan voters. Second, it examines the effect of describing different consequences of voting yes or no on vote choices. This experimental evidence contributes to the existing literature on EU referendums by exploring how voters respond to elite recommendations and how the framing of the context influences the choice between two options.
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