Decisions to hold referendums in the UK

Matt Qvortrup

in The Politics of Participation

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780719076589
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701560 | DOI:
Decisions to hold referendums in the UK

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While support for increased participation is a constant theme in the political rhetoric of the elites, decisions to submit more issues to the voters do not always live up to their idealistic billing. The decision to hold referendums is a case in point. This chapter considers why governments have submitted issues to referendums. Referendums have become part of the constitutional tapestry of the UK. In sum, the referendums held in Britain can—using an elaborated version of Morel's classification of referendums—be categorized as: decision-solving referendums: membership of the EEC (1975) and the Labour Party's decision to hold a referendum on a possible change to the electoral system; legislative referendums; strategic referendums: Scottish and Welsh devolution (1997); joining the Euro; legitimation referendums: directly elected mayor and an assembly for London 1998; regional assembly for the north east; politically obligatory referendums: the Good-Friday Agreement and the European Constitution.

Keywords: UK referendums; constitutional tapestry; Britain; European Constitution; strategic referendums; legislative referendum

Chapter.  6260 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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