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Information and voting behaviour in European referendums: A missing link?

Siapkidou, Elli (2009) Information and voting behaviour in European referendums: A missing link? In: UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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    In recent years an increasing number of European governments have decided to hold referendums on European issues. Whether it is the Treaty of Nice, participation in EMU, the European Constitution or the Treaty of Lisbon, whether the referendum is legally required (e.g. Ireland) or government induced (e.g. France), the number of European referendums has increased. This increase has been accompanied, more often than not, by negative outcomes. Starting with the Danish rejection of the Treaty on the European Union (TEU) in 1992, there has been an increase in negative outcomes in European referendums. These negative outcomes, along with fall in public support (see Eurobarometers) and the rise of Eurosceptic parties across Europe have brought public opinion to the centre of the political and academic debate, casting doubts about the resilience of the citizens’ “permissive consensus”. Whether it has become a “constraining dissensus” or not, the fact remains that there is a gap between Europe and its citizens and it seems to be widening. Several rationales have been put forward to explain the European referendums’ outcomes, mainly focusing on each country at a time. Within this debate, this paper aims to provide a holistic approach to voting in European referendums by exploring voting behaviour in five countries (Spain, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland). First, this paper will explore the motivations behind citizens’ negative or positive voting. Secondly, it will look into the relation between citizens’ levels of information and voting behaviour in European referendums. For this purpose, there will be a qualitative analysis of the post-referendum Eurobarometers surveys, of the referendums in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on the European Constitution and Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon. The argument put forward will be that information levels play a crucial role in influencing the voting behaviour of European citizens, in that it is associated both with abstention and negative voting.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Countries > France
    Countries > Ireland
    Countries > Luxembourg
    Countries > Netherlands
    Countries > Spain
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > European elections/voting behavior
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2009 (11th), April 23-25, 2009
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2012 17:05
    Number of Pages: 35
    Last Modified: 19 Aug 2012 17:05

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