Ruling the Referendum? European Integration Challenged by Direct Democracy

Joost Pieter van den Akker

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Referendums on European integration play a prominent role in the decision-making processes in current European democracies. Between 1972 and 2016, 61
EU-related referendums took place across 28 countries. In his dissertation, Joost van den Akker (1984) investigates under which conditions governments win such EU-related referendums. The fact that the government won in 46 cases demonstrates that overall governments have been quite successful
in securing popular support for their EU policies.
The study locates the EU-related referendum in the historical perspective of referendums in Europe after the French revolution. It develops a model to explain the current potential and practice of EU-related referendums in European democracies. The most prominent contribution lies in explaining the referendum result by politicalinstitutional and socio-economic conditions at the aggregate level. It is argued that a unifi ed majority government and economic development are the main drivers for winning referendums. If the economy is deteriorating, however, the government only wins if it is only recently in offi ce and backed by a wide consensus among elites. The dissertation explains why EU-related referendums are held, under which conditions governments win or lose them, and how governments cope with inconvenient outcomes. In this way, it contributes to the strategies which governments can deploy to win a referendum, or to deal best with a referendum defeat.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Aarts, K., Supervisor
  • van der Kolk, Henk, Co-Supervisor
  • van de Luijtgaarden, Eric, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date4 Jul 2018
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4579-2
Electronic ISBNs978-90-365-4579-2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018


  • Referendum
  • European integration
  • QCA
  • Direct democracy
  • Government
  • Comparative analysis


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