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Lessons learned from European referenda? Claes H. de Vreese The Amsterdam School of Communications Research ASCoR Universiteit van Amsterdam www.claesdevreese.com.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons learned from European referenda? Claes H. de Vreese The Amsterdam School of Communications Research ASCoR Universiteit van Amsterdam www.claesdevreese.com."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lessons learned from European referenda? Claes H. de Vreese The Amsterdam School of Communications Research ASCoR Universiteit van Amsterdam Paris EB 35 conference NONE ?!

2 5 points to remember Referenda are good for EU democracy Citizens generally like referenda, for different reasons The Yes camp repeats mistakes from previous referenda It takes about 3 referenda to make them work Campaigns matter and the EB is an insufficient tool

3 Referenda are good for EU democracy Highly visible events. # of news stories NL 2005

4 Citizens generally like referenda, for different reasons I Cognitive mobilization 1.Higher educational groups are more supportive of referendums, 2.Higher levels of political interest are related to higher support 3.Higher political involvement (voted in last election) = higher support

5 Citizens generally like referenda, for different reasons II Political disaffection 1.Dissatisfaction with the way democracy works = higher support 2.Low levels of political efficacy are related to higher support 3.Lower political involvement (not voted in last election) = higher support 4.Having voted for losing party (in last election) is related to higher support 5.Right- or left political ideology (as opposed to center orientation) are related to higher support

6 The Yes camp repeats mistakes from previous referenda

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9 -Getting EU(rope) on the agenda -Elites, media and citizens -legitimate arguments It takes about 3 referenda to make them work

10 >> Absence and/ or ambiguity of elite cues >> Lower importance ideology and party identification >> Reshaping political space (left/right – pro/con) >> Low knowledge levels >> Issue framing Campaigns matter …

11 Vote intention time1 Volatility, vote switching

12 Late decision making - Time of vote decision

13 >> 2005 referendum study NL >> Media content analysis - National and regional newspapers, national TV news and current affairs programs - Time period: 6 weeks prior to the referendum / n=8353 >> Panel survey - Internet panel (CentERdata); Tilburg University - Field dates: May 6-11 and June 3-8 (referendum on June 1) - Response rate: wave1 68% (n=1773); wave2: 81% (n=1915). Net panel sample n=1633 Details in: Schuck, A. & de Vreese, C. H. (2008). The Dutch No to the EU Constitution: Assessing the Role of EU Skepticism and the Campaign. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion & Parties, 18 (1), … and the EB is an insufficient tool

14 Explaining vote intention (NO), time 1 +2,09 1. Age 2. Gender (female) 3. Government disapproval 4. EU skepticism -,019 -,391 +, Political trust -,723 Intention to vote NO 6. Political knowledge +,203 Nagelkerke Pseudo R2:.49 (n=1379) 1. Explaining vote intention (time 1)

15 Campaign effects on NO vote Nagelkerke Pseudo R2:.48 (n=1379) +, Cynicism about campaign 3. Exposure NRC Handelsblad 4. Exposure NOS Journaal 5. Exposure Hart van Nederland +,303 -,023 -, Undecided about vote choice (time 1) +1,81 Voting NO 7. Intention to vote NO (time 1) +3,08 1. Watching referendum programs on TV +, Campaign effects on vote choice

16 >> Characteristics of Dutch referendum: volatile electorate (considerable switching), very late decision making >> Strong influence of both EU unrelated predispositions and EU integration related attitudes on voting NO >> The campaign mattered I. - Cynicism about the campaign, watching of specific news shows had an effect on voting against the EU constitution >> The campaign mattered, II. - Reading specific papers and watching NOS had an effect on voting in favor of the EU constitution Conclusion Cross-sectional past election survey (e.g. EB flash) not sufficient

17 5 points to remember Referenda are good for EU democracy Citizens generally like referenda, for different reasons The Yes camp repeats mistakes from previous referenda It takes about 3 referenda to make them work Campaigns matter and the EB is an insufficient tool

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