BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Single issue EU referendums: tying hands, domestic effects and the challenge of consentification

    Hodson, Dermot and Maher, I. (2023) Single issue EU referendums: tying hands, domestic effects and the challenge of consentification. Journal of European Public Policy 30 (5), pp. 948-966. ISSN 1350-1763.

    47287.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

    Download (341kB) | Preview


    Single-issue referendums – which give voters a say on specific European Union (EU) policies or general questions of European integration – were rarely employed before the 2000s, but they have since become commonplace. Examples include Greece’s 2015 referendum on negotiations with the EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Hungary’s 2016 referendum on the relocation of refugees between EU member states and the UK’s 2016 vote to leave the EU. This article asks why we are seeing more single-issue referendums in the EU. Surveying different theoretical perspectives on the conditions under which such votes occur, it considers single-issue referendums as being driven by (1) the search for strategic advantage in a two-level game, (2) domestic effects and (3) problems of consentification. Case studies of eight single-issue referendums show that domestic effects matter but offer limited evidence of hand tying. Most single-issue referendums, it finds, were called by governments wrestling with issues that could win legal approval but not political legitimacy. This instrument of direct democracy will remain a feature of EU politics, we contend, as member states wrestle with domestic effects and the challenge of (de)legitimating EU decisions through traditional means.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis, available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): EU referendums, single-issue referendums, two-level games, domestic effects, consentification, legitimacy
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Centre for British Political Life
    Depositing User: Dermot Hodson
    Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2022 12:29
    Last Modified: 07 Aug 2023 00:10


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item