European Referendums Brief

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Ivan Blot

Political scientist, author of “Putin’s Russia”

Since 1972 European countries have held 57 referendums on European issues. 21 of these referendums have been held on the accession to the EU.

One of the referendums resulted in the exit of one of the members from the European Union: Greenland in 1982 (53,02% for the exit). Since then, country’s economic growth has been about 3% annually.

The biggest number of referendums has been held in Switzerland (10), Ireland (9) and Denmark (8). Switzerland voted against entry into the EU and even against joining European Economic Area. At the latest referendum its citizens declared against supported introducing limits to emigration from the EU. This contradicts the Schengen Agreement, which Switzerland signed.

All referendums are initiated by the executive power, except Switzerland and Holland: popular initiative with citizens’ petition.

Referendums attract bigger turnout than elections (64,2% vs. 52,6%). Citizens are more concerned with the issues. 17 of 57 referendums show that they are against increasing European integration.

Besides Greenland, two other countries voted against accession to the EU: Switzerland and Norway, which are much wealthier than many EU member states.

Denmark and Sweden stopped using the euro as currency, moreover, Denmark was given a special status for police and justice issues.

Negative results of referendums in France and Holland were bypassed due to signing the Treaty of Lisbon.

Greek referendum against financial memorandum didn’t go any further. Swiss referendum against immigration and Dutch Ukraine – European Union Association Agreement referendum went further, but the developments were taken under control with the use of negotiations.

It looks like if Brexit happens, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and France will follow the lead of the UK.

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