The Constitution Society paper, ‘A Tale of Two Referendums: Elite Manipulation or Civic Engagement?’ by Professor Matt Qvortrup, is available online.
Can we make referendums work? This pamphlet provides a brief overview for the perplexed and provides an understanding of how referendums operate before the vote on British membership of the European Union.
The author holds that the two major referendums held by David Cameron’s governments so far have been qualitatively very different. The referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 was a model of civic engagement; the one on electoral reform in 2011 was the archetype of elite manipulation. After considering the historic background to referendums and some of the theoretical issues, he makes recommendations designed to ensure that the EU referendum is conducted in the most appropriate way.
(This pamphlet presents the personal views of the author and not those of The Constitution Society, which publishes it as a contribution to debate on this important subject).