Getting around no: how governments react to negative EU referendums

2019-05-30T20:06:18Z (GMT) by Frank Schimmelfennig

Referendums, and negative referendums in particular, are an important constraint on European integration and the most direct way in which politicization affects EU-level decision-making. Yet governments retain considerable room of maneuver in responding to them. Whereas there is a rich literature on referendum campaigns, voting behavior, and intergovernmental bargaining under referendum threats, the (inter)governmental responses to referendum outcomes have not been studied systematically. This article examines how governments respond to negative referendums on European integration. It suggests that the type of integration issue put to the referendum (accession, withdrawal, or integration), and the concomitant size and intergovernmental distribution of the costs of failure, structures the post-referendum choices. This conjecture is explored in a comparative analysis of all 15 negative EU referendum cases since 1972.