Europe in Question

Sara Binzer Hobolt

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549948
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720451 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Europe in Question

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Direct democracy has become an increasingly common feature of European politics with important implications for policy‐making in the European Union. The no‐votes in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005 put an end to the Constitutional Treaty, and the Irish electorate caused another political crisis in Europe by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty. This book explains how voters decide in referendums on European integration. It develops a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding referendum behaviour and presents a comparative analysis of EU referendums from 1972 to 2008. To examine why people vote the way they do, the role of political elites and the impact of the campaign dynamics, this books relies on a variety of sources including survey data, content analysis of media coverage, experimental studies, and elite interviews. The book illustrates the importance of campaign dynamics and elite endorsements in shaping public opinion, electoral mobilization and vote choices. Referendums are often criticized for presenting citizens with choices that are too complex and thereby generating outcomes that have little or no connection with the ballot proposal. Importantly this book shows that voters are smarter than they are often given credit for. They may not be fully informed about European politics, but they do consider the issues at stake before they go to the ballot box and they make use of the information provided by parties and the campaign environment. Voters are thus more competent than commonly perceived.

Keywords: campaign; democracy; direct democracy; European integration; European Union; information; political parties; public opinion; referendum; voting behaviour

Book.  304 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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