This challenge for ‘in’ campaigners is to answer the demands of citizens without offering Eurosceptics an opportunity to frame the debate.
Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – is more than a debate on the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the European continent.
As the Brexit campaigns heat up in preparation for the 23 June referendum, we launch a new project to examine both the issues and how referendum campaigns are waged.
New research suggests that the British media’s coverage of the EU referendum is failing to reach groups outside of middle-aged to elderly men.
There are now less than four months to go until the EU referendum. Yet all the signs are that the hard facts of the debate are not seeping through to the public. So far the discussion has been dominated by internal party politics and personalities – where an MP backing the in or out side means a media-dominating rift in this or that party.
Previous referendums on European Union treaties contain many lessons and insights into the upcoming referendum in the UK.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission. Martin Schulz/Flickr. Some rights reserved.Referendum campaigns matter more than election campaigns. Research has shown time and time again that people tend to change their minds during a referendum campaign, especially when the subject is an unfamiliar one, and the politicians line up in a non-traditional way. Voters then rely on campaign information to make sense of the referendum proposal, and the way political actors present the issue makes a difference.
This is typically the case in referendums on the European Union (EU), and even more so when the referendum question concerns EU treaties, which are considerably technical and long. Besides being unfamiliar with the EU’s unique terminology, European citizens lack direct interaction with EU institutions in their daily lives. In addition, these campaigns often pitch the parties in the middle against those that are at the extremes of the political spectrum. The far left and the far right come together in their fight against the proposal, forming alliances never seen in regular elections. Referendum campaigns thus have an important role in helping citizens make sense of the European treaty at hand. In the referendums on Maastricht, Nice, Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties, campaign information has been shown to be the key to understanding the vote choice.
Politicians have a habit of throwing the concept of sovereignty around when it suits them…
After years of second guesses and a rising tide of Europhobia and scare stories, finally the UK faces the certainty of a vote on June 23rd on whether or not it remains a member of the European Union. This will be a debate about so much – about how people see Britain and its future, the English question, and the distinctiveness and autonomy of Scotland – all illustrating the absence of any uniform national British politics.
Moldova’s economic prospects are bleak. Gender-based discrimination makes them bleaker still for the country’s women.
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