Publications of Benjamin Leruth

Referendums in the 'new' member states: Politicisation after a decade of support

In 2003, nine of the ten countries joining the European Union (EU) in the following year held referendums on the question of accession, all resulting in a clear, strong popular endorsement of joining the Union – albeit in many cases with very low participation. In the decade since then, however, the landscape has changed. A series of crises, from the financial and economic crisis of 2007-08 to the ongoing migration crisis undermined confidence in the EU’s effectiveness in tackling problems the bloc is facing. CEE parties use the EU as scapegoat for unpopular policies, claim to stand up for ‘the national interest’ in Brussels, and/or mobilise national (or nationalistic) sentiment against what is portrayed as homogenizing tendencies or forced ‘supranationalisation’. How these dynamics play out in the context of referendums is the subject of this chapter.