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Constitution-making and the Search for a European Public Sphere

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Chapter Summary

In spite of opinion polls indicating the likely rejection of the Constitutional Treaty (CT) by the French and Dutch voters, the panic and disbelief among the European political elites following the referendum revealed that the elites were utterly unprepared for the negative results. What was wrong, for the elites, was that the voters failed to understand the CT. There were, however, good reasons to believe that voters would approve the Constitutional Treaty. How can we reconcile the discrepancy between the transparent and inclusive Constitution-making process on the one hand and the rejection of the CT by the voters on the other? This chapter argues that even though the channels of communication were opened to encourage the participation of citizens, they were hardly utilised because a European public sphere (EPS) was not present to sustain effective information flow and meaningful debate among citizens and between elites and citizens.

Keywords: communication channels; constitution-making process; Constitutional Treaty (CT); European political elites; European Public Sphere (EPS); French and Dutch voters; referendum



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