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Everything Shall Now Be Popular: Explaining Elite Behaviour in the Constitutional Treaty Referenda

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to explain elite behaviour during the Constitutional Treaty process from both a theoretical and a comparative perspective as well as to briefly contextualise these referenda in a historical perspective. It asks the following questions. First, from an analytical point of view, why are referenda convened by elites in the first place, i.e., what underlying motivations influence these decisions and what concerns - normative and/or strategic - are referenda anticipated to resolve? Second, how well do the theoretical explanations fare when confronted with the empirical record, and most significantly, what led elites to convene referenda in order to ratify the Constitutional Treaty? The chapter offers a historical account followed by an introduction and discussion of some competing hypotheses as to why referenda are convened. Next, each of the scheduled Constitutional referenda are assessed and contrasted to these hypotheses. Lastly, the findings and implications are discussed before some concluding remarks are given.

Keywords: Constitutional Treaty; elite behaviour; ratify; referenda



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