Democratic governance, EU referendums and the European Union

Roberts-Thomson, P., 2000. Democratic governance, EU referendums and the European Union. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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This thesis analyses the twenty-four 'EU referendums' held in Western Europe since 1972 on matters associated with membership of the European Union. It does so in relation to the European Union and to a form of what is claimed to be a distinctive pattern of democratic governance emerging there. In doing so the research eschews the usual approach to analysing referendums with respect to national political systems and/or their constitutional or legal origins. In order to facilitate this task, the thesis establishes a typology of EU referendums: accession, treaty, quasi-treaty, special purpose and withdrawal referendums. These are analysed in a comparative thematic way in terms of constitutional and decision-making practices, which highlight the sources of these referendums, and in terms of participation and legitimacy, which indicate the endorsement they carry and the extent of legitimation conveyed. This forms an important part of the analysis and the main body of the thesis.

EU referendums relate to the development of the European Union in the areas of enlargement, treaty reform and democratisation. Within these parameters, these referendums are highly significant for the European Union, and particularly so in view of the inadequacies of other forms of democratic authorisation and consent. The study concludes by suggesting that a number of conventional assumptions surrounding referendums need revision, and that EU referendums have a significant impact on both the European Union itself, and on the pace and direction of integration. More importantly, the study finds that these referendums contribute cumulatively to a form of democratic governance emerging in the European Union in explicitly political/electoral areas. The argument that referendums can be understood in terms of this idea of the emergence of a democratic governance system is the primary claim to originality arising from the thesis as a whole. This form of governance restricts the development of integration to that which can be reliably passed in Danish and Irish treaty referendums which, in turn, acts as a brake on the progress of integration. In doing so it imposes on the European Union, by a very indirect means, a specific form of West European liberal democracy which is based on the explicit involvement of the people in European integration - the major political issue of contemporary Western Europe.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Roberts-Thomson, P.
Date: 2000
ISBN: 9781369323832
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 02 Oct 2020 13:59
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2023 12:29

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