The Politics of Referendum Use in European Democracies

  • Saskia¬†Hollander

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 27-56
  3. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 57-87
  4. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 89-112
  5. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 113-143
  6. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 145-173
  7. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 175-204
  8. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 205-229
  9. Saskia Hollander
    Pages 231-261
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 283-345

About this book


This book demonstrates that the generally assumed dichotomy between referendums and representative democracy does not do justice to the great diversity of referendum types and of how referendums are used in European democracies. Although in all referendums citizens vote directly on issues rather than letting their political representatives do this for them, some referendums are more direct than others. Rather than reflecting the direct power of the People, most referendums in EU countries are held by, and serve the interests of, the political elites, most notably the executive. The book shows that these interests rarely match the justifications given in the public debate. Instead of being driven by the need to compensate for the deficiency of political parties, decision-makers use referendums primarily to protect the position of their party. In unravelling the strategic role played by national referendums in decision-making, this book makes an unconventional contribution to the debate on the impact of referendums on democracy.

Saskia Hollander is a political scientist and Director of Knowledge Management at The Broker, a knowledge brokering organisation in the field of inclusive politics and economies, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. Her previous publications include the edited book Creative Crises of Democracy (with J. Gijsenbergh, T. Houwen and W. de Jong, 2012).


referendums European politics referendum drivers referendum classification aggregative decision-making integrative decision-making classical institutionalism sociological institutionalism mandatory referendums presidential referendums legislative majority referendums legislative minority referendums citizen-initiated referendums referendums in France referendums in Denmark referendums in the UK referendums in Sweden referendums in the Netherlands populism referendum practice

Authors and affiliations

  • Saskia¬†Hollander
    • 1
  1. 1.Director of Knowledge Management, The BrokerDen HaagThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information