Referendum Practice in the United Kingdom

  • Saskia Hollander


This chapter covers the analysis of referendum practice in the UK – a majoritarian democracy where three (UK-wide) referendums were held between 1950 and 2017. After providing an outline of available referendum provisions and referendums held, this chapter analyzes British referendum practice on the basis of this study’s six independent variables. It shows that the long prevalence of two-party competition between Labour and the Conservatives had enabled situations in which both consistently called for referendums on ‘Europe’ when in opposition, as a way to strengthen its position vis-à-vis the ruling majority, but were able to withdraw such calls once in office. Yet, the recent fragmentation of the political landscape in the UK has made the withdrawal of referendum calls more difficult – the Brexit-referendum being exemplary for this argument.


United Kingdom Majoritarian democracy Two-party competition Conflict-mediation Euroscepticism Brexit 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saskia Hollander
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Director of Knowledge Management, The BrokerDen HaagThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Research fellow, Department of Public Administration and Political ScienceRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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